Please note-

*Please note- Your browser preferences must be set to 'allow 3rd party cookies' in order to comment in our diaries.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

October's In The Life

Two part video embedded below the fold.



‘Bullied’ Offers Lessons for Students, Educators

In response to mounting reports of vicious anti-gay bullying and student suicides, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project is making a new documentary film and educational kit available – free of charge – to every school in the country.

Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case that Made History chronicles the powerful story of a student who stood up to his anti-gay tormentors and filed a federal lawsuit against his school district. The suit led to a landmark federal court decision holding that school officials could be held accountable for not stopping the harassment and abuse of gay students.



Despite that ruling, anti-gay bullying continues to be a severe, nationwide problem. In Massachusetts, for example, 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover hanged himself with an extension cord in 2009 after being bullied by classmates who perceived him as gay. In Indiana, another student hanged himself earlier this month after being subjected to anti-gay bullying. In the Anoka-Hennepin school district in Minnesota, at least four gay students have committed suicide in the past year alone.

“Schools can no longer stick their heads in the sand when it comes to anti-gay bullying and prejudice – the stakes are simply too high,” said Maureen Costello, the SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance director. “Some organizations, like Focus on the Family, believe that schools shouldn’t talk about the problem. But nothing will change – and thousands of gay and straight children alike will continue to suffer abuse – until schools confront this crisis head on.”

The film and its teaching kit can be ordered online. The film, endorsed by the National Education Association, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and many other organizations, is being released in time for National Bullying Prevention Month in October. The viewer’s guide contains classroom tools and professional development materials.

Nearly nine out of 10 LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) students experienced harassment in the past year – a rate three times higher than students in general, according to a 2009 GLSEN survey. Lesbian, gay or bisexual adolescents also are twice as likely to be depressed and think about or attempt suicide as their heterosexual peers, according to research cited by the government.

But anti-gay bullying is not confined to students who are actually gay. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Mental Health Association, anti-gay bullying is frequently directed at straight students who are perceived as gay.

Bullied tells the story of Jamie Nabozny, who suffered relentless verbal and physical abuse at the hands of his classmates in Ashland, Wis. School officials failed to stop the attacks, despite pleas from Jamie and his parents.

“Students should never be afraid for their safety at school,” said Nabozny, now 34. “This film offers hope to students who are being harassed and should inspire educators to live up to their responsibility to stop the bullying that is shattering lives.”

The SPLC urges school districts to adopt policies that specifically address bullying based on sexual orientation or gender expression.

Bullied is the seventh film produced by the SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance program. Four of the program’s past documentaries have been nominated for Academy Awards®, and two films – “A Time for Justice” and “Mighty Times: The Children’s March”– have won the Oscar® in the short documentary category.

Teachers can order the film here.

Read more about the film here.

-end

ACLU Staffers' "It Gets Better" Videos

   In his September 23, 2010, Savage Love column, Dan Savage wrote about 15-year-old Billy Lucas, an Indiana teen who committed suicide after persistent bullying and harassment by his classmates for being gay. Savage wrote: "I wish I could have talked to this kid for five minutes. I wish I could have told Billy that it gets better. I wish I could have told him that, however bad things were, however isolated and alone he was, it gets better."
   So Savage started the "It Gets Better Project" on YouTube, in which LGBT adults are encouraged to submit videos of themselves talking to LGBT teenagers who suffer abuse similar to Billy Lucas's.
We made our own videos to contribute to the It Gets Better Project, featuring several LGBT staffers from the national ACLU's New York and Washington, D.C. offices. Staff from many different departments — including fundraising, database, and human resources — stepped up to contribute. The ACLU's executive director, Anthony D. Romero, joined in the effort as well. Learn more about the ACLU LGBT Project's work on behalf of students and youth at www.aclu.org/safeschools.





   Every day, students in schools across the country face harassment, bullying and discrimination because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
   The Student Non-Discrimination Act will help to ensure that discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students has no place in our country’s public schools. The legislation builds on existing protections for students based on their race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin, and will provide LGBT students and their families with legal recourse against discriminatory treatment.

Urge your Representative and Senators to make schools safe and fair. Take action now and demand passage of H.R. 4530/S. 3390, the Student Non-Discrimination Act >>


-end-

Alexi Giannoulias: The Fierce Urgency Of Today's Civil Rights Movement

 
Alexi%20Giannoulias    Forty-three years ago, it was entirely legal for states to prevent an interracial couple from getting married. The Supreme Court ended this discrimination, relying on the long-held view that racial classifications are "odious to a free people whose institutions are founded upon the doctrine of equality."
   Today, same-sex couples are prohibited from getting married in all but five of our nation's states and in D.C. The rampant, institutionalized discrimination that tarnishes statues on the state and federal level is just as "odious to a free people" as the institutionalized discrimination that was rightly rejected almost half a century ago. And yet, despite the fact that millions of Americans are deprived of the fundamental right to marry, the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act is treated like a back-burner issue by D.C. politicians who wrongly view the issue through the prism of politics rather than through the eyes of those who are directly and negatively impacted by continued inaction.
   It is not only committed LGBT couples that are unfairly forced to wait on the sidelines for action. Gay and lesbian Americans put their lives on the line in uniform every day only to be treated like second-class citizens who much chose between serving their country or hiding their sexual orientation. Every day that passes without a repeal of DADT disgraces their honor and is a slap in the face to those brave Americans.
   Treating all of our courageous soldiers equally. Promoting families and allowing loving, committed couples to marry and adopt. These are not just "LGBT issues." These are bedrock issues of equality that test the character of our entire nation. The painful discrimination endured by LGBT Americans at the hands of the intolerant shames us all.
It must end. It must end now. There will come a day when we look back at the disparate treatment of LGBT Americans by state and federal government with disgust and horror. There will come a day when caveats and code words like "civil unions" will give way to the simple concept of "equal under the law." It is my fervent hope that day comes quickly, so that we may finally live up to the ideal of America as a true beacon of freedom and equality.
   I truly believe that ensuring equality for LGBT Americans is a civil rights issue, no different than those which have consumed our nation in the past. Now, like then, is when we need bold leaders who aren't afraid to stand up for the Constitution and for the citizens it is supposed to protect. Now is when the millions of Americans yearning for true equality deserve more than words. The "fierce urgency of now" calls out for action, and it's time for Congress to deliver.


Alexi Giannoulias is running for US Senate in Illinois as the Democratic nominee.  You can support his race by clicking here.


-end-

Glory In The Highest - Fond memories of Tyler Clementi, performing at Grace Church, Ridgewood NJ




-end-

Focus on the Family All but Endorses Antigay Violence and Suicide

   In the following video, FOTF considers people bullies for rejecting the organization’s affirmations of antigay violence and suppression of speech and expression. FOTF denies the very existence of LGBT people and the relevance of antigay violence, and therefore FOTF refuses to explicitly oppose violence against a population whose existence FOTF seeks to erase.





   FOTF implies that anti-gay conservative Christians are the only people who are entitled to freedom of speech, expression, and religion in schools.
   Despite the departure of co-founder James Dobson, Focus on the Family continues to affirm its allies’ campaigns of violent proselytization and outright terror against religious and sexual minorities.


-end-

U.S. Secretary of Education Says “No More” “This Must Stop” to Anti-Gay Bullying, But Legislation Speaks Louder Than Words

By Jason Cianciotto-


   Today Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, released the following statement in response to recent tragic incidents of youth committing suicide as a result of pervasive anti-LGBT harassment and bullying in schools and college campuses across the country:
“This week, we sadly lost two young men who took their own lives for one unacceptable reason: they were being bullied and harassed because they were openly gay or believed to be gay. These unnecessary tragedies come on the heels of at least three other young people taking their own lives because the trauma of being bullied and harassed for their actual or perceived sexual orientation was too much to bear.
“This is a moment where every one of us – parents, teachers, students, elected officials, and all people of conscience – needs to stand up and speak out against intolerance in all its forms. Whether it’s students harassing other students because of ethnicity, disability or religion; or an adult, public official harassing the President of the University of Michigan student body because he is gay, it is time we as a country said enough. No more. This must stop.”
   Actually, it’s time for the Obama administration and our national LGBT advocacy organizations to actively push for the passage of  the Student Nondiscrimination Act (SNDA) and the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA).
   The SSIA, first introduced in the House in 2007, is currently locked up in the House Subcommittees on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education and Healthy Families and Communities. It amends the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (Title IV of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act) to require schools and districts receiving federal funds to adopt codes of conduct that specifically prohibit bullying and harassment, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. It also requires states to collect and report data on bullying and harassment to the Department of Education.
   On July 8, 2009, Sirdeaner Walker, mother of 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, testified before that committee in support of SNDA’s passage just a few months after Carl committed suicide after experiencing pervasive anti-gay harassment at school. A YouTube clip of her testimony is below and GLSEN provided a transcript here.
   Introduced for the first time in the House and Senate in 2010, SNDA prohibits school programs or activities that receive federal funding from discriminating against any public school student based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. SNDA also prohibits discrimination against any public school student because of the actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of a person with whom a student associates or has associated. Discrimination, as defined by SNDA, also includes harassment of a student. SNDA also prohibits retaliation based on an individual’s opposition to conduct made illegal by the bill, and it affirms the right of any individual who believes he or she has been harmed under its provisions to pursue legal recourse.
   SNDA is currently locked up in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
As an undergraduate, my first class on public policy included a variety of theories on how policy becomes law despite a U.S. system of government designed to be slow and deliberate. The theories of John Kingdon reigned supreme and focused, among other things, on a “window of opportunity” opening that creates an often singular opportunity for legislation to be passed, usually due to the convergence of unexpected events that capture the public’s and politician’s attention.
   My broken hear over the rash of suicides in the past month would never reduce those tragedies to political “windows os opportunity.” Still, we all have to wonder the proverbial, “if not now, when?” as these two major pieces of legislation languish in a Congress focused on the mid-term election.
We need leadership in Congress, the White House, and in our movement’s national organizations to stand up and demand attention to anti-LGBT bullying in more than just words.
It’s time to pass SNDA and the SSIA. Period.



-end-

ANOTHER Teen Suicide, This Time in Rhode Island


As if to cap an extremely depressing spate of news of gay young men who have taken their own lives comes news of a student at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Raymond Chase, an openly gay sophomore studying culinary arts, apparently hanged himself in his dormitory room. Perez Hilton released a statement from Ronald Martel, the dean of students, that went out on Thursday, Sept. 30.

The statement noted Chase’s "passing," and stated that there no funeral arrangements released but there would be memorial service at the university. The dean also offered counseling to distraught students.

According to Shane Windmeyer, executive director and founder of Campus Pride, the reason for Chase’s suicide is currently unknown. Windmeyer goes on to demand "national action be taken to address youth bullying, harassment and the need for safety and inclusion for LGBT youth at colleges and universities across the country."

As noted in a comprehensive story on EDGE, college campuses are not the havens for liberal tolerance many believe they are. In fact, many, many LGBT students experience harassment and worse.

The situation burst into national attention with the suicide of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi. Clementi’s death attracted widespread media attention not only because of the dramatic way he ended his life -- jumping off the George Washington Bridge, which connects New Jersey and New York City and one of the busiest bridges in the world. But also the circumstances that drove him to the desperate act: the secret videotaping of his engagement with another man in his dorm room by his roommate and a female accomplice, and the distribution of the video on the Internet.

Johnson & Wales University (not "the University of Providence," as noted in other reports), is a private career-oriented school. The largest of four campuses in the United States, the Rhode Island school is especially well known for its Culinary Arts and Hospitality programs. Among its alumni are celebrity chefs Emeril Lagasse, Tyler Florence, Sam Talbot and Aarón Sanches, and New York club owner Amy Sacco.

Chase came from Monticello, a small town of 6,500 people nestled in the Catskill Mountains north of New York City. It became famous as part of the "Borscht Belt" of Jewish resorts that, in the middle part of the last century, nurtured several well-known entertainers. More recently, the city and the surrounding area have fallen on hard times. The state has been debating allowing casino gambling to revive the area for decades.


-end-

GLBT History Month 2010 - George Washington Carver



-end-

Judy Shepard: A Lack of Empathy Helps LGBT Suicide Thrive

   Judy Shepard, the mother of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in a hate crime nearly 12 years ago, appeared on the CBS Early Show this morning to address the recent wave of news coverage surrounding the issue of LGBT bullying, and particularly bullying that leads to young LGBT people committing suicide.
   Make no mistake, this is not a new phenomenon. For years we've known that LGBT youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers, and we also know that nine out of ten LGBT youth report being harassed in school. These have been talking points for years, as research continues to show a toxic climate for LGBT youth in middle school, high school, and even college. (Both of those links go to information documented in 2001 and 2007, respectively. This is not a new phenomenon.)
But there has been a noted uptick in media coverage surrounding the issue, particularly since July 2010. Then, Justin Aaberg, a 15-year-old student in the Anoka-Hennepin school district in Minnesota, committed suicide after rampant anti-gay bullying. Here was a particular awful scenario, where anti-gay parents and adults in the district actively fought efforts to address LGBT bullying, and distributed information that suggested gay people were disordered and could change.
   Since then, news media and blogs have covered the stories of Billy Lucas, Asher Brown, Seth Walsh, Tyler Clementi, and now Raymond Chase, a sophomore at Johnson & Wales, a college in Rhode Island. Chase was found in his dorm room earlier this week, after he hung himself. All were gay students.
   In the wake of all of these stories, Judy Shepard spoke to CBS about the connection between bullying, hate crimes, and suicide. But she added something sorely missing from this debate: that the way our politicians and legislators handle LGBT issues sends a damning message to LGBT youth that they are second class citizens, not entitled to full civil rights. It's this sentiment, Shepard claims, that also helps foster climates where LGBT bullying and LGBT suicide can become heartbreaking realities.
   "[Politicians] should be granting basic civil rights to the gay community instead of continuing to try to deny them. To me, that's what it is, basic civil rights. To deny them service in the military or job security on the federal level, or even the right to marry and receive all those benefits that are derived from that, is just unfair and, in my view, un-American," Shepard said, noting that even though it has been 12 years since the death of her son Matthew, the climate that LGBT people face can still be deadly in too many pockets of the country.
   Particularly in our schools. That's why there's an increased push to get the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, to officially address the subject of LGBT suicide, and to push for federal anti-bullying programs to include specific criteria related to sexual orientation and gender identity. You can add your name to help push Duncan to address this very serious problem.
   It's also an important reminder that all of us play a part in curbing the climate where violence toward LGBT people can thrive. Politicians have a role. Educators have a role. Students have a role. Parents have a role.
   All of us have a role. And according to Shepard, that role is to be both proactive at addressing bullying, and to express empathy to try and understand the lives of people who are different from us.
   "I just think it's so important to try to communicate to our children and/or students empathy, to understand what other people's lives are like, and a general rule of accepting everyone for who they are and respecting them, just for being here," Shepard said. "What we do at school needs to be followed up at home. And what we do at home needs to be followed up at school. I think we just think someone else is taking care of it, and, evidently, they're not."




-end-

September’s Anti-Gay Bullying Suicides – There Were A Lot More Than 5



by David Badash
 
   Whether they are gay or not, anyone who is a victim of anti-LGBTQ bullying or harassment is having a tough time.
   Some, as we painfully were reminded this month, resort to suicide.
   Right now the media is focused on five teens who committed suicide in response to anti-LGBTQ bullying. As tragic as that is, there are a lot more than five. Thanks to our readers, so far we so far have found nine.
   Nine male teenagers all committed suicide in the month of September, victims of bullying. There are reports that all but one were victims of anti-LGBTQ bullying. The “type” of bullying of one, Felix Sacco, was not identified.
   If nine teens died in one month from a mysterious disease, there would be marches to the White House demanding something be done.
   So, aside from a press release, what is being done?

  • Billy Lucas (15) September 9, 2010. Indiana
  • Cody J. Barker (17) September 13, 2010. Wisconsin
  • Seth Walsh (13) September 19, 2010. California
  • Tyler Clementi (18) September 22, 2010. New Jersey
  • Asher Brown (13) September 23, 2010. Texas
  • Harrison Chase Brown (15) September, 25 2010. Colorado
  • Raymond Chase (19) September 29, 2010. Rhode Island
  • Felix Sacco (17) September 29, 2010. Massachusetts
  • Caleb Nolt (14) September 30, 2010. Indiana
   Remember them. And reach out to — and check in with — every teen you know. They may need you right now, more than you imagine.
   If you have additional information, please share it with us: newcivilrightsmovement@gmail.com


-end-

Friday, October 1, 2010

Death on the Halfshell

I was reading the comments in a contentious diary on Friday, when I encountered the following. It took my breath away.

Just stop it. You aren't convincing anyone or winning anybody over. I believe sexuality is an immutable characteristic like skin color, but if you can hide in a closet to keep from suffering it's consequences, than the discrimination you suffer is nowhere near Jim Crow if for no other reason than you can't hide from it.

--Link
Hide in the closet? Really? For a transsexual person, hiding in the closet is tantamount to dying, because what you are counseling is to not transition. If that were possible, there wouldn't have been the crisis point which leads to the transitioning.

Open message to the Christian right

I am a gay atheist. And I want to write this letter to all people who disapprove of homosexuality on moral grounds, but most of all I want to make this a sincere letter from the heart, but absent the anger and disgust I admittedly feel every day for those who torment us.
I get it: You disapprove of us. You consider us to be making a choice, you disagree with what you consider to be our “lifestyles”. Some of you may listen and heed the words of people like Tony Perkins, others may be more in tune with the ideas of people like Scott Lively, who consider gay males like me to be akin to Nazis.
First of all, I want to assure you that nothing could be further from the truth than to call me or most any person like me a Nazi. I don’t want to change by force of any kind, persecute, or brainwash people who disagree with me on any political topic, even homosexuality. Moreover, I don’t know any gay man who does. Most of us know about the history of gay people being put to death in concentration camps by the Nazi regime, I don’t know any gay person, let alone, any gay man, who looks on the likes of Hitler or anyone who advocates the mindset of a Nazi with anything but disgust and horror.
We can go over and over the sad old tropes. But I want this message to be different. I want to reach out to you, specifically, over the number of LGBT young people who commit suicide every day in this country because people disapprove of them.
It is your right to disapprove of homosexuality. And, I want to let you know, I get it. We may disagree, but I understand you consider it to be abnormal, and although I don’t understand the underpinnings of the idea because to me natural is what exists in the natural world, you may consider homosexuality and especially gender variance to be “unnatural”.
We have many disagreements, obviously. I think disapproving of homosexuality to be akin to disapproving of rain or sunshine. It is what it is. Homosexuality and gender variance among humans has existed since the beginning of humanity; it will always exist. In some cultures and at some times in history, these variances have even been celebrated in some cultures for thousands of years.
“Wait a minute,” you might say. “Murder has always existed, as well, but we are moral beings and we sanction and punish murder in our societies. Why would homosexuality be any different?”
This is true. If we are moral, then we not only disapprove of murder, but we do anything we can to prevent a murderer from murdering again. And this in Christian morality can be rested partly on the basis of “Judge not, lest ye be judged”. Someone who murders another human being is taking away a precious thing, a life that can never be restored. It is judgement in action: the ultimate punishment for that which the murderer has no right to punish. (Obviously, there are many other moral bases for sanctioning murder, but the important thing is, we stop a murderer to prevent him or her from killing again, taking away that which is most precious, and what you might consider only God’s right to do).

So we put murderers in prison. Though I disagree with the idea of taking a life for a life, we sometimes even execute murderers. But, fundamentally, there is a reason - to prevent the murderer from taking another life.
What I want to talk about, though, is sanctioning homosexuality using the societal mechanisms of societal disapproval, but to even go farther from that -- to change our laws not only to register disapproval, but to punish. And I wonder why, among Christian or supposedly moral anti-homosexuality crusaders, why you feel this must be so?
And, I feel, perhaps you feel we have not received the message, that you disapprove. But I assure you, I have. I feel your disapproval every day of my life. I have suffered, I have not had the life I might have had, partially due to people disapproving of my homosexuality.
But to sanction and punish people because of your disapproval of homosexuality? For one thing, I ask, do you think it does any good? Do you think putting homosexuals in prison will stop homosexuality?
Sexuality is one of the most primal basic parts of us. While you may think of us as perverted, or that our homosexuality is depraved, or that we make a choice, you are not going to stop a homosexual person from exercising his or her sexuality even with prison or death. The only possible thing you might accomplish is to harm and terrorize homosexuals. And I want to ask, is this Christian? Is it moral? And, would it even be possible? If you could somehow find and either eliminate every homosexual on the planet, or somehow convert them to heterosexuality, do you truly think homosexuality would go away? No, such an attempt, no matter how effective, would be doomed to fail, because you see, homosexuality arises within us. People do not get converted, they are homosexual, whatever you might think.
And, to persecute homosexuals, is it a faithful observation of the most basic commandment of Christianity which is to love your neighbor as yourself? To do unto others as you would have them do unto you?
What I would most like you as a Christian conservative or one who disapproves of homosexuality, though, to do, is consider the cost: especially with young people who might either be considered homosexual by their peers, wrongly, or a young person who actually is gay?
We have now had in the news, even though we in the LGBT community know it happens much more often than is present in the news, the same story, over and over again: the young person who is considered homosexual is subjected to a level of hatred and sanction that is so extreme that such a person literally commits suicide. We know, in the LGBT community, that this is not an isolated event. That many of our young people are dying. Dying based partly on your disapproval and the message taken from bullies from that message.
Perhaps you feel that society simply doesn’t accept your message; that, in order to get it across you have to push and push harder and harder. But, please, do not close your eyes to THESE costs. Do not avert your eyes from THESE deaths. According to your religion, And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'"
I beg of you: do not let your disapproval of us be taken to such extremes as to allow more of this. Open your eyes and stop refusing to see.

Catholics Face Vocal 'Mutiny' Over Teachings On Gay Marriage

By Daniel Burke

   For 13 years, the Rev. Joseph Palacios lived, prayed, and studied with the Jesuits. But he left the Roman Catholic order in 2005 because he would not profess a vow of obedience to the pope.
   "I felt that I could still be a Catholic priest," Palacios said, "but I could not deal with that kind of scrutiny and command from the top."
   Now, the 59-year-old priest and adjunct professor at Georgetown University, the nation's oldest Catholic university, is again at odds with the church's hierarchy, this time on one of its signature issues: the definition of marriage.
   In recent years, Catholic bishops have used their moral influence and deep pockets to push for bans on same-sex unions in states from California to Maine.
But a new corps of increasingly vocal Catholics is urging a "mutiny" against the hierarchy, in the words of one activist, particularly on gay marriage and related matters.
   For example, on Sept. 14, Palacios and other advocates launched Catholics for Equality, a group that aims to persuade believers in the "movable middle" to defy the bishops and support civil rights for gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people.
   Similarly, on Wednesday (Sept. 29) four Catholic groups with a combined 112 years of activism on gay issues announced the formation of Equally Blessed, a coalition dedicated to providing a voice for "faithful, pro-equality" Catholics.
   Also this week, a mailing of 400,000 DVDs sent to every registered Catholic family in Minnesota, explaining the church's position on marriage sparked a "Return the DVD" campaign; a Catholic artist pledged to make a sculpture with discarded discs.
   The "defense of marriage" is a top priority for the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference, which formed a special committee last year to promote church teachings through mailings, videos, and political activism. The committee's $418,000 annual budget will be bankrolled by the Knights of Columbus through 2011.
   "Much of the public discussion has been focused on rights," said Andrew Lichtenwalner, a program specialist for the bishops' marriage committee. "What the bishops are doing is teaching about the unique meaning and purpose of marriage, which has been missing from the conversation."
   Palacios, who teaches sociology at Georgetown, says surveys show Catholics "are more accepting of LGBT people than any other Christian group." He cited a May 2010 Gallup Poll in which 62 percent of Catholics said gay and lesbian relationship are "morally acceptable"--a 16 percent increase from just four years ago.
   Other polls show Catholics are more ambivalent about gay marriage and adoption by gay couples, both of which the bishops oppose.
   Catholic gay-rights supporters have been emboldened by the example of nuns who bucked the bishops by supporting the health-care overhaul Congress passed last March, said Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, one of the groups involved in Equally Blessed.
   "People are using that as a touchstone," he said. "They see that the nuns were courageous and they feel like they can be courageous. Courage is contagious."
   But one man's courage is another's heresy, and the bishops are keen to quell dissent within the church.
   The artist who suggested the DVD sculpture has been suspended from her artist-in-residence job at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis. Groups such as New Ways have been deemed inauthentic Catholics. Last week, the bishops' doctrine committee issued a sharp, point-by-point rebuke of a book by two theologians that challenged church teaching on sexuality. Pro-gay priests have been silenced or removed from ministry.
   Palacios, who is openly gay, says he knows the risks, and has been careful not to give the impression he speaks for the church. He rarely wears a cleric's collar in public, and his biographies on the websites of Georgetown and Catholics for Equality omit references to his ordination. Palacios also says he is not advocating against church dogma--just its political positions on gay issues.
   But Catholic leaders say there is no wiggle room between the two, and Palacios is shirking his priestly duties.
   "The role of a priest is to help people understand more deeply the teachings of the church," said Susan Gibbs, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Washington, where Palacios works, "not to simply move with the winds of secular culture."
   As is common practice in the church, Palacios was given priestly faculties--sanction to perform the sacraments--when he moved to Washington from Los Angeles, where he was ordained, Gibbs said. Gibbs said she raised questions with Los Angeles officials last year after Palacios testified in favor of gay marriage before Washington's city council.
   The Archdiocese of Los Angeles said of Palacios' advocacy, "We are now aware of it and are assessing his participation," in Catholics for Equality.
   Georgetown University, which has been criticized for employing a priest who advocates against church teachings, said Palacios was hired to teach part-time on the merits of his credentials, "not based on any affiliation he may have with external organizations that is conducted in a personal capacity."


-end-

10-2-10 Goin' to DC travel log

10-2-10 Goin' to DC travel log

I thought it might be interesting to create a travel log for those attending the 10-2-10 march in Washington D.C. So I thought it might be interesting to hear everyone share their joy's, challenges, and just plain whatever is of interest. So if you are going to D.C. follow me below the fold.
As Lao Tzu is paraphrased to have said, he would have said li instead of miles.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
Photo0086
Mine started at the train station to get to the airport. I have made it through the TSA kabuki and am now waiting for a flight that I'm way early for because the instructions were to allow up to two hours for TSA.
How are you getting to D.C. today? Please feel free to share in the comments. If you can please rec so we can have an up front clearing house for our travel info.

-end-

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sometimes A Lawyer Is More Effective than Cops by Jo LeGall

We say to lots of people who suffer routine abuse at the hands of another to "Call 911." This only works if a crime is in progress. Sometimes after the cops have shown up, and it is your word against your abuser, the cops will tell you "There is nothing we can do. Call a lawyer. This is Civil not Criminal." I know this first hand as a survivour of domestic violence.

So what is the difference? A criminal matter is when the government files a lawsuit against a private citizen and/or corporation. In a civil matter an individual files. The government, will only file charges if they can prove a crime has been committed. Visible wounds to the victim, the victim's statement, witnesses to the assault. There will then be a trial where the government prosecutes the defense and the defense is either made to pay a fine directly to the government or be incarcerated by the government.

If it is a verbal dispute between two people, hearsay, they will take a statement from both parties as substantive evidence in any future pending litigation. The party wishing to file civil charges will retain a lawyer and present evidence in support of their civil case. The case will be heard by a judge who will decide if damages should be ordered. This is a simplified explanation of the differences between criminal and civil law, yet, it should bring understanding as to why in many cases the police can do nothing to help you.

In civil cases there are steps you should take in order to build a strong case against the defendant.

1. Keep a Journal: Write down the date, time, name of the assailants, clothing they were wearing, where it took place, names of any witnesses, what was said and what physically took place.

2. Take pictures: If you sustained any injury at the time of the incident. Wait until you are safe and take pictures of your injuries. Make copies and keep the originals in a safe place.

3. Make a complaint: If you are a grade school student, talk to your Guidance Counselour, Principal or Asst. Principal. Bring copies, never the originals, of your evidence. Like any other person of authority they like to know all "i"s are dotted and "t"'s are crossed. Make sure you take notes during your meeting of whom you spoke to and the correct spelling of their names along with the date of your meeting, the time it began and the time it ended.

4. Follow Up: After you have filed your complaint with the school authorities, follow up with a written letter thanking them by name for their time, mention the meeting, what you spoke about, the evidence you presented, any promises that they made to you and the time frame they gave you for these promises. Mail it certified mail and keep the Certified Mail tracking stub originals with your other originals.

5. Go to a higher authority: If nothing happens within the time frame, send another follow up letter AND a letter to their supervisors. Mention in the 2nd follow up letter that their supervisors, Mr/Ms X, has been notified of the situation. Mention in the letter to their supervisors your previous meeting with x, y and z. Give a brief out line of the incidences, the meeting, what was said, and what was promised. Send this letter Certified Mail.

6. Call your lawyer: Give them copies of your evidence, the letters, any telephone/cell phone records proving contact with the school and the Certified Mail stubs. They will know how to press charges and the detailed evidence you have collected will help in litigation. In Civil law you have to be your own investigator unless your lawyer suggests different. Your lawyer will also let you know what is and is not submissible in court.

GLBT History Month starts tomorrow.

Ugly Betty Star Michael Urie.

Obama's DADT Dilemma

BARACK OBAMA STATE OF THE UNION  X390 (GETTY IMAGES) | ADVOCATE.COM

By Kerry Eleveld-


   The White House may make one last-ditch effort this year to push through the defense authorization bill that houses a “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal measure during the period following the midterms.
White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina met Monday evening with the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Carl Levin, to discuss moving the National Defense Authorization Act before the 111th Congress adjourns for the year.
“For the nearly hour-long meeting, a core portion of the discussion was the NDAA and ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and bringing them up during lame-duck,” said a source familiar with the meeting. A spokesperson for Levin, however, would not confirm the meeting.
   The White House is beating back criticism for not being more engaged during last week’s unsuccessful vote to advance the legislation before Congress recessed for the midterm election.
White House aides confirmed that Vice President Joseph Biden did make one call to GOP senator Susan Collins on the day of the critical vote, but the White House legislative affairs team did not have a visible presence on the Hill, according to multiple accounts from people who lobby on the issue and Capitol Hill staffers.
   One Democratic Senate aide told The Advocate that neither President Barack Obama nor his top aides had any skin in the game prior to the vote.
“We were really looking for the president or the very senior members of the administration to be calling people regularly to push this, but the White House is not stepping up to the plate in any meaningful way on this,” said the aide.
   Since President Obama took office, White House aides and press secretary Robert Gibbs have consistently said that the administration favors a legislative path to overturning the 17-year-old policy barring gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.
When asked about other avenues to ending the policy, Gibbs has faithfully reiterated the talking point that the president “continues to work with” Congress to achieve repeal, as he did during a briefing last week when he faced questions about the failed vote.
But the administration is fast approaching a scenario where the legislative route dead-ends after Democrats suffer potentially staggering losses in the midterms while the Justice Department continues to defend a law that is being repudiated by the courts.
One federal judge ruled the law unconstitutional earlier this month in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States of America, and another federal judge declared the discharge of a female service member unconstitutional last week in Witt v. Department of the Air Force, saying it violated her Fifth Amendment right to due process.
   Fred Sainz, vice president of communications for the Human Rights Campaign, said the administration could soon find itself in “an untenable position.”
   “That’s why they need to do everything they can to get it done this year,” Sainz added.
   A growing cadre of Congress members has signed on to a letter pressuring the administration not to appeal the decision in the Log Cabin case, including 69 House members and up to 15 senators, according to those familiar with the effort.
   But thus far, President Obama has shown no appetite for instructing his Justice Department not to defend the law.
   House speaker Nancy Pelosi acknowledged the administration’s predicament last night following an event where she received an award from the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund for her work on LGBT issues. During her speech, Pelosi reiterated her pledge to an adoring crowd that “’don’t ask, don’t tell’ would “be gone by the end of the year.”
   “That will happen with or without Congress,” she later told The Advocate. “We wanted to sort of put our imprimatur on it, but I don’t think it has to depend on whether it passes the Senate. The process will work its way through, and the president will make his pronouncement on it.”
   Pelosi said that the DADT measure passed by the House and approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee ultimately left the authority to end the ban with the executive branch, noting it was “contingent” upon approval from the president, secretary of Defense, and chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
   Asked if she would call on the president to issue a stop-loss or executive order to end the discharges, Pelosi said, “I think that is the unfolding that we will see. I myself, I’m pleased with the course that the president is on, but I think that we shouldn’t be discharging people until that happens.”

read more from Kerry at The Advocate.


-end-

This Will End Well.

No, not the upcoming Mid Term Elections, as much as we all might wish them to.

I'm talking about this:

"Which comes closest to your view? Gay couples should be allowed to legally marry. OR, Gay couples should be allowed to form civil unions but not legally marry. OR, There should be no legal recognition of a gay couple's relationship."

marriage-equality

CBS News polling on marriage.

The graph is the result of taking the results of the earliest CBS poll pollingreport.com has that asks the above question (done in 2004), and the latest CBS poll that asks the identical question (August 2010). And then drawing straight lines between the points. (The reality is that there were 12 polls asking the same question taken in between, and the results of graphing all 14 points are not, of course, completely straight lines, but that would just make the graph less perspicuous).

Rosie Perez Blasts Ruben Diaz Sr.

RosiePerezFightBackNYx390 (Screengrab) | Advocate.com

By Julie Bolcer

   In a new video, actress Rosie Perez tells New York state senator Ruben Diaz Sr. that his antigay stances do not reflect the attitudes of the majority of New York's Latinos.

   Brooklyn-born actress Rosie Perez reserved choice words for her fellow New Yorker and Puerto Rican, state senator Ruben Diaz Sr., telling the antigay Democrat in a new video, “You are not speaking for the majority of New York Latinos.”
   Perez filmed the video to help raise money for Fight Back New York, the PAC dedicated to defeating state legislators who vote against equality. Last year, Diaz Sr. of the Bronx was one of eight Democrats who voted against the marriage equality bill that failed the state senate by a 38-24 vote.
   Perez began by expressing her general disappointment with her home state.
”Are you kidding me? Iowa’s got the jump on us, New York?” asked Perez. “We’re the world’s freakin’ city. We take the lead and dictate to the rest on how to do this, and you can’t tie the knot if you bat for the other team, how whack is that? This is an embarrassment.”
Then, Perez delivered her special message to Diaz Sr.
   “I’m extremely disappointed with your position on this matter,” she said. “With all due respect, sir, your stand represents a lack of justice and equality on this issue. Please take note: You are not speaking for the majority of New York Latinos.”
Fight Back New York and a coalition of other groups including the Human Rights Campaign targeted Diaz Sr. for defeat in the primary election this month, but the Pentecostal minister defeated challenger Charlie Ramos by a four-to-one margin and is expected to cruise to re-election in his South Bronx district this November.
   However, another Democrat targeted for his vote against marriage equality, state senator Bill Stachowski of Buffalo, was defeated by challenger Tim Kennedy. Kennedy faces a tough general election in a part of the state where the National Organization for Marriage recently filed a lawsuit seeking to exempt the antigay organization from financial disclosure laws.





-end-

Riverfest commodore in dispute over parade flag


 By Anne Jungen-

   La Crosse, WI police are investigating accusations the reigning Riverfest commodore shoved a 14-year-old girl carrying a gay pride flag just before Saturday’s Maple Leaf parade.
   The teen was rollerblading and carrying a flag pole with two rainbow flags — one a hybrid of the American flag and the gay pride flag — as members of 7 Rivers LGBT Resource Center’s float prepared for the parade about 9:45 a.m. Saturday on Rose Street, said Roseanne St. Sauver, the center’s executive director.
   Commodore Mark Schneider, who was on a float nearby, approached the girl and put his hands on the flagpole, St. Sauver said.    “Please stop, she’s a 14-year-old child." “He said, ‘I do not care. Look what you are teaching them,’” St. Sauver said. That’s when, St. Sauver said, Schneider shoved the girl with his body. St. Sauver said Schneider told the girl: “Go to a country where they will hang people like you.“
   The incident left the teen crying, and others upset, St. Sauver said. This is the first year the center has participated in the parade. “I had tears in my eyes,” she said. “He specifically targeted us and made statements about our sexual orientation.” Schneider today denied shoving the teen or making any offensive comments, saying he has witnesses. “Why would I push a 14-year-old girl?” he said. His objections were to alterations made to the flag, he said, and not to anyone’s sexual orientation. “It all had to do with the discoloring of the American flag,” Schneider said. “Other commodores on the commodore float were upset because the flag is offensive to veterans ... This is not an issue of gays. This is an issue with the American flag.”
   A police report wasn’t expected to be completed until Wednesday.
   Schneider did confirm today that police cited him for disorderly conduct — for grabbing the flagpole, he said — but he hasn’t decided whether he will contest the ticket. But St. Sauver believes his “clear hostile remarks” and physical contact with the teen warrant criminal charges. She also wants him to resign or be asked to step down, and said he should apologize.
   Riverfest President Mike Schieber said officials are looking into the incident and no decisions have been made.



-end-

Tyler Clementi’s Final Facebook Status: “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry”

By Jim Burroway
Tyler Clementi

   Tyler Clementi, the eighteen-year-old Rutgers freshman who committed suicide after his roommate broadcast hidden camera videos on the Internet of Tyler having a sexual encounter in his dorm room, had changed his Facebook status to “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry” on Wednesday, September 22. Witnesses saw someone jump off of the George Washington Bridge on Wednesday evening at about 9:00 pm. Police found his wallet with his driver’s license and Rutgers I.D. on the bridge’s walkway, and his car, computer and cell phone were found nearby.
   It has been a week since Tyler’s suicide, and his body had not been found. The New York Times tonight however is reporting that police say they have found the body of a young man in the Hudson River north of the bridge and were trying to identify it.

Dharun Ravi's Twitter feed, September 19-21

   Tyler’s roommate, Dharun Ravi, and fellow Rutgers freshman, Molly Wei, have each been charged with two counts of invasion of privacy. Authorities charge that they used a hidden webcam to live stream a sexual encounter between Tyler and another man. Ravi had alerted people to the live stream via a Twitter post on September 19, saying “Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly’s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.”
Ravi was charged with two additional counts of invasion of privacy for trying to set up another surreptitious broadcast on September 21, the day before Tyler’s suicide. He announced that attempt again on his Twitter feed, saying “”Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes it’s happening again.” That second attempt was unsuccessful. Ravi’s Twitter feed, which had 150 followers, has since been taken down.

Ravi surrendered to police on Tuesday and was released on $25,000 bail. Wei, who turned herself in on Monday, has been released on her own recognizance. Ravi and Wei both had been classmates together in high school. They now face up to five years imprisonment for each count.
The New York Times notes that Tyler’s death, in addition to the horrendous tragedy that it is, also represents a cruel irony:
   The timing of the news was almost uncanny, coinciding with the start of “Project Civility” at Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey. Long in the planning, the campaign will involve panel discussions, lectures, workshops and other events intended to raise awareness about the importance of respect, compassion and courtesy in everyday interactions.
   Events scheduled for this fall include a workshop for students and administrators on residential life on campus, called “Respect Resides at Rutgers,” and a panel discussion titled “Uncivil Gadgets? Changing Technologies and Civil Behavior.”
Tyler was an accomplished violinist who was attending Rutgers on a college scholarship from the Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra for his musicianship and leadership. His family released a statement earlier today:
   “Tyler was a fine young man, and a distinguished musician. The family is heartbroken beyond words. They respectfully request that they be given time to grieve their great loss and that their privacy at this painful time be respected by all.”
A memorial page for Tyler has been set up on Facebook. Nearly 6,000 people have joined the page as of 9:30 EST this evening.


-end-

Gay Kiss Comes to Modern Family

Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet Modern Family x390 (pub) | ADVOCATE.COM

   Following months of anticipation including a Facebook campaign, 'Modern Family' characters Mitchell and Cameron finally kissed Wednesday night. They shared a low-key peck in the background of a scene between Jay and his daughter Claire.   The episode as a whole explored public displays of affection and the coldness Mitchell, played by Jesse Tyler Ferguson, had learned from his father Jay. However, critics of the ABC sitcom suggested the lack of same-sex affection stemmed from concern about the public's response, which Ferguson seemed to suggest in comments to Entertainment Weekly, where he said the characters were being handled “very carefully.”

   “That was something that [the writers] had in the works very early on; unfortunately it’s going to look like a response to the Facebook campaign,” said Ferguson about the kiss. “Some people are complaining that it shouldn’t be a big deal and it’s being made such a big deal. The thing is, it never was even meant to be a big deal. I think when people see the episode, they’re going to understand what our plan was the whole time…. We’re handling the characters very carefully. We’re in a lot of living rooms every week and it’s fantastic. And I don’t want to scare off the people who are just getting comfortable with Cameron and Mitchell…. It’s very simple and it’s not a big deal. That’s exactly what it should be.”




-end-

TWO Deeply Saddened By Three Gay Teen September Suicides Resulting From School Bullying

By Wayne Besen-




Anti-Gay Industry Responsible For Creating Hostile Climate That Leads To Such Tragedies, Says TWO


   Truth Wins Out expressed a sense of deep sorrow and loss as news of three gay teen suicides in September rocked the LGBT movement. In each case, the victim was a target of relentless harassment and bullying by school peers. Truth Wins Out blames the anti-gay industry and negligent school officials for creating a hostile climate that places lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students at risk for psychological abuse, violence and suicide.
“Our hearts go out to the families of these young men and we feel a deep sense of sorrow and regret for these needless tragedies,” said Truth Wins Out’s Executive Director Wayne Besen. “We blame the anti-gay industry for fighting measures to end bullying in schools, and school officials who turn a blind eye to brutality. We are fed up with what amounts to anti-gay schoolyard muggings that are foolishly dismissed as ‘boys being boys’. In reality, it is ‘boys beating boys’, and these bullies receive tacit approval for their violent, homophobic behavior by teachers and certain vocal segments of society.”
   Through their annual “Day of Truth” campaign and TrueTolerance.org web site, Focus on the Family and the “ex-gay” group Exodus International actively and continuously obstruct anti-bullying programs in schools across the country. Instead of opposing violence, both organizations remain dedicated to pretending the problem of anti-gay bullying does not exist, or downplaying the deadly results.
“The goal of Exodus International and Focus on the Family is to purge LGBT people from society, although they disingenuously frame the issue as eliminating homosexuality, which is not possible,” said Truth Wins Out’s Executive Director Wayne Besen. “When you target homosexuality, the result is persecution and punishment of LGBT people, and in many cases it leads to gay bashing or suicides. The anti-gay industry should dismantle these despicable programs and work towards creating solutions instead of suicides.”
   In September, there have been three gay teen suicides as a result of school bullying:
  • Seth Walsh, the Bakersfield, CA 13-year-old who hanged himself from a tree in his back yard after years of being bullied, died Tuesday afternoon after nine days on life support. Police investigators interviewed some of the young people who taunted Seth the day he hanged himself. “Several of the kids that we talked to broke down into tears,” Police Chief Jeff Kermode said. “They had never expected an outcome such as this.”
  • Asher Brown, 13, an eighth-grader killed himself last week. He shot himself in the head after enduring what his mother and stepfather say was constant harassment from four other students at Hamilton Middle School in the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District in Houston Texas. Brown, his family said, was “bullied to death” — picked on for his small size, his religion and because he did not wear designer clothes and shoes. Kids also accused him of being gay, some of them performing mock gay acts on him in his physical education class, his mother and stepfather said.
  • Billy (William) Lucas, 15, a student at Greensburg Community High School in Greensburg, IN, was found dead in a barn at his grandmother’s home Thursday evening — he had hanged himself. Friends say that he had been tormented for years. “He was threatened to get beat up every day,” friend and classmate Nick Hughes said. “Sometimes in classes, kids would act like they were going to punch him and stuff and push him. Some people at school called him names,” Hughes said, saying most of those names questioned Lucas’ sexual orientation.
   “This insanity must stop and all school districts must commit to making school safe for LGBT students,” said TWO’s Besen. “It is inexcusable and unconscionable that bullying is tolerated in this day and age. Those responsible for allowing such tragedies to occur should be held responsible.”
Truth Wins Out is a non-profit organization that fights anti-LGBT religious extremism. TWO monitors anti-LGBT organizations, documents their misinformation and exposes their leaders as charlatans. TWO specializes in turning information into action by organizing, advocating and fighting for LGBT equality.

TRAGIC UPDATES:
  • A Rutgers University freshman posted a goodbye message on his Facebook page before jumping to his death after his roommate secretly filmed him during a “sexual encounter” in his dorm room and posted it live on the Internet.Items belonging to 18-year-old Rutgers student Tyler Clementi were found by the George Washington Bridge last week, according to authorities. Clementi’s freshman ID card and driver’s license were in the wallet.Clementi’s post on his Facebook page, dated Sept. 22 at 8:42 p.m. read, “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry.”
  • School bullies broke the arm of eleven year-old Tyler Wilson because he joined the cheering team. But he’s pushing through it, and he’s going to cheer and not give into the thugs. A longer report and full interview with Tyler and his mom from Good Morning America are here.
from Truth Wins Out.


-end-

Jane's Addictions Dave Navarro’s Open Letter to LGBT Teens-

Dave-Navarro-foto-3651
Dave Navarro


   Ok everybody, here is the deal. I cannot imagine what it’s like growing up in a close minded environment and being gay, bi or trans-gender. I don’t think any of us who aren’t can possibly imagine. The strength and character it must take to stay true to yourself in such an unforgiving microcosm are qualities that a major portion of the world lacks… Sad, but true. It’s just how it is at the moment. However, it’s that very strength and character that gives the world hope for a new way of thinking and acceptance in the future and when one of our children gives in and gives up, it is not only a tragedy but a victory for those who fear diversity. DO NOT LET THEM WIN! I know how overwhelming the feelings can get and how small the reality can feel, but the bottom line is that this is but a drop in the bucket in terms of the magnitude of life. You can get through this. High school is full of plenty of bullies and fear based hate, as is the world. With any group of people comes a percentage of people who just don’t get it and probably will never get it. That’s OK. We all deal with this to an extent. The truth is that in High School, you are kind of stuck in the group you are a part of until graduation, but trust me… You can pick and choose who you associate with and there are plenty of like-minded people in the world that are understanding, accepting and loving. Sometimes, we just have to stick it out to meet them. The hard cold reality is that once you have chosen suicide, that’s it. No going back. Sure, there is a public outcry and MAYBE the bullies feel remorse for a while, but it all dies down, life goes on, the bullies let the memory fade and get on with their lives. They learn to laugh, love, reach their goals and in many cases go on to have a full and productive life. Who loses? You do! Your family! Your friends! Other teens who need support in this area! Oh yeah… We all Lose! Now the world has one less mind that is open and different and unique and sensitive. Instead, we inherit the bullies, the fear, the set back… Our world has one less soul to help it evolve with a new level of clarity. Personally, I have seen a lot of darkness and tragedy that has felt insurmountable. The murder of my mother, my battle with drug addiction, the loss of friends and family. Utter depression and despair. Of course the thought of suicide has crossed my mind a time or two. Let me share this. THANK GOD I never took that action. The friends I have made, the experiences I have had, the laughter I have shared would have all been missed. In hindsight, some of my darkest moments now seem so small and insignificant that I am amazed I gave them so much power at the time. I am even able to laugh about it now. When I think back to the times I have considered ending it all I end up saying to myself, “What was I thinking?” To those of you contemplating such a course, please do us a favor. Seek counseling first. Find a network of people who have gone through what you are going through. Help others in even more turmoil than you. I am certain that you can find peace. As you know, our society and political climate is SO divided right now. We need your voice. The world at large needs your sheer existence in order to come to terms with itself and where we are going as a planet and species.
Thank you, Dave Navarro.

Statement from Lambda Legal Deputy Legal Director Hayley Gorenberg on Four Recent Teen Suicides


 By Hayley Gorenberg-

"Sympathy is not enough." 
Hayley Gorenberg Deputy Legal Director
"We must act urgently and do everything in our power
to end the prejudice and  protect our youth.
    Today, as we heard news of the fourth apparent teenage suicide in recent weeks, following antigay bullying "We must act urgently and do everything in our power to end the prejudice and protect our youth."
and harassment, we felt overwhelming grief and anger. Losing one young person because of bigotry and hate is too much—but two, three, four? Each person and story is unique and tragic, but taken together, they deliver a powerful and painful message: We must act urgently and do everything in our power to end the prejudice and protect our youth.
   Our hearts and sympathies are with the families and loved ones of the four young people who took their lives: Seth Walsh, 13 years old, of Tehachapi CA, who hanged himself; Billy Lucas, 15, of Greensburg, Indiana, who also hanged himself; Asher Brown, 13, of Houston, who shot himself in the head; and Tyler Clementi, a college freshman in New Jersey who apparently jumped off the George Washington Bridge after classmates allegedly violated his privacy and webcast live images of him in a sexual encounter.
   But sympathy is not enough—we all have a responsibility to take action, and to keep working until all young people are safe and respected, no matter what their sexual orientation or gender identity. We must push for laws on the federal level and in every state that prohibit bullying and discrimination. We must hold people accountable, and use the courts when necessary. And most importantly, we must love and teach all our children to be their best selves and to respect and support others to do the same.


Contact: Leslie Gabel-Brett; 212-809-8585, ext. 245; lgabel-brett@lambdalegal.org
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.

visit Lambda Legal.


-end-

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Catholics “do the work of Jesus” with anti-gay DVD

By Timothy Kincaid-


   If you are Catholic and living in the area of St. Paul, Minnesota, then you probably received a DVD in the mail from your Archbishop. Some “anonymous donor” paid to take the moral authority of the church and turn it into political shilling in opposition to the rights of their neighbors and a all-too-transparent attempt to push votes in the gubernatorial election. (StarTribune)

   More than 400,000 DVDs are being mailed to the homes of Minnesota Catholics on Wednesday, courtesy of Catholic bishops in the state who want to stop the campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in its tracks.

   The 18-minute DVD includes an appearance from St. Paul and Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt in which he says it is time for Minnesotans — not the “ruling elite” of legislators and judges — to vote on a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

   But as the Catholics hierarchy ratchets up its efforts to impose Catholic doctrine on society by force of the ballot box, the Catholic laity seems to be increasing in its rebellion against the rigid demands of the Church. Not only can this been seen on a global scale with one Catholic country after another flouting the threats of the Church and choosing civil equality, so too can this disconnect be seen on the local level.

   So it is not surprising that some lay Catholics in Minnesota see no Christ in the Church’s latest political maneuvering. But seeking to be good Christians, they have found a way to turn the Archbishop’s priorities on their ear.

   Return The DVD, a group that describes itself as “Catholics who are concerned about the priorities of the leaders in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis” have called on their fellow faithful to send them the Archbishop’s DVD.

   1.) We are collecting as many DVDs as possible and will return them to Archbishop John Nienstedt with a letter asking him to make the needs of the poor and love of neighbor his highest priority.

   They are also taking the opportunity to focus Catholics’ minds away from worldly political fiefdoms and towards what Jesus instructed.

2.) Make a donation to an organization doing the work of Jesus.

Make a donation directly to an organization helping to fight poverty and end homelessness in Minnesota.

If the hierarchy of the Church is still capable of feeling shame, now would be a good time.

from the Box Turtle Bulletin.

-end-

KAT GRAHAM GIVES A DAMN

Immigration Bill To Include LGBTs

By Kerry Eleveld-
UAFA NEW YORK CITY X390 (GETTY IMAGES) | ADVOCATE.COM

   Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey is expected to introduce comprehensive immigration legislation before the Senate adjourns this week for the midterm recess, according to Politico, and a source tells The Advocate that the legislation will be LGBT inclusive.
   “We fully expect that the Menendez comprehensive immigration reform bill will be inclusive of the Uniting American Families Act,” said Steve Ralls, director of communications for the pro-LGBT Immigration Equality. UAFA would allow American citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their same-sex partners for residency. “We have been in constant communication with Senator Menendez’s staff to ensure that the legislation will include lesbian and gay families,” Ralls added.
   A spokesman for Senator Menendez would not confirm the report but said details of the bill would be forthcoming soon.
   Ralls said the legislation would also provide a path to citizenship for the undocumented, and would include the DREAM Act, which would give adolescents who came to the U.S. as children a chance to achieve citizenship through completing two years of college or spending two years in the military.
   “Both would provide important opportunities for many LGBT immigrants,” he said.
The complicated legislation is not expected to move before the end of the year, but Ralls said it was nonetheless a milestone in setting the terms of the debate moving forward.
   “Senator Menendez’s bill will set the stage, in this Congress and the next, for a serious debate on fixing our broken immigration system,” he said.

for more visit the Advocate.


-end-

Asexuality: Coming Out by Jo LeGall

Coming out for some is a one time thing. For me, an asexual, I have to "come out" at the beginning of every single relationship. Those who are Gay or Bi or Straight simply say those words with a preceding "I am" which provides anyone with the gender they are sexually attracted to and "Voila!" no problem.

All of my relationships seem to start the same. I explain that I am not sexually attracted, not interested in sex yet I do like talking to them, spending time and they pretend to listen, while interpreting what I've said to mean I simply need time to get to know them before the passion explodes. Saying "I am Asexual" only starts the crickets chirping and then explaining that no I do not self-replicate.

I never had a word that someone could look up that explains my sexual orientation until 2006. It was left up to me to try to pull the millions of little pieces which create the entire picture to explain it to others. There were so many conversation detours when I tried to explain it all that in the end I just mentally said "Oh, to hell with this! Believe what you will!" in sheer frustration.

I tried to explain that my lack of sexual interest has nothing to do with the orgasm experience and it never got any further than that. There were so many questions on how could I not want an orgasm. What sexual dysfunction did I suffer from? Did I get therapy for my sexual dysfunction? Did I stop my medication and was I at least considering surgery to fix whatever had to be wrong with me? Am I a lesbian? Am I bisexual? Did I secretly hate men?

Explaining that I have experienced orgasm by myself, yet, see no reason to repeat the experience is met with slack jawed shock. How can you not like masturbation? Everyone loves masturbation!! Well excuse me for having a "Meh" experience with myself. I never said I hated masturbation, it just does not "blow my mind" the way it does yours. I have other things I would much rather be doing. The first couple orgasms are okay and then I find myself becoming rather bored with the whole thing.

The conversation took so many twists and turns off subject since many can understand that you want to have sex and orgasm with someone of the opposite sex, or the same sex and the idea of not wanting either short circuited their synapses. I had to want someone else. If I wanted to sleep with someone else, fine, it was my fault not theirs. I would be bi or gay and it was just something they could not give me sexually. Being Asexual, on the other hand, sounded like I was sneering at their sexual technique.

How could I not enjoy it? Why would I not think of "moving on" to someone else who may be sexually compatible if they were not? I had to move on to someone more sexually compatible. I had to. They did not want to be known as the one who made a girl go entirely celibate. The idea of being so bad you "turn someone gay" no longer applies in this day and age. Everyone finally understands that there are different sexual orientations and you were simply not sexually compatible to begin with. The problem is that no one understands that Asexuality is a sexual orientation and still see it as a "medical problem that can be cured".

Eventually we would end up at the subject of my children, as their "Aha! I gotcha!" topic. If I were "Asexual" and had no sexual attraction to anyone of either gender why did I have children? You have to have sex to have children? If you have no desire to have sex that means you have no desire to have children!

Well that answer was simple. I possess a reproductive urge which is separate from my sexual orientation. Just like many ask gay men and women why they have biological children when they are gay, or why a reproductively healthy heterosexual woman will opt to adopt or use IVF. I wanted a child. I had a child. Internal fertilisation is only one way to reproduce and I direct them back to their biology classes on the subjects of internal and external fertilisation in nature.

I always saw myself being a parent. I may never have given a thought, when I was a teen, as to what I would have to do to have one yet I knew I would have children. I will confess to seriously considering being a foster or adoptive parent directly after giving birth. These were all the many detour subjects that I went, and go through, with my never ending coming out.

Sometimes having to revisit previous conversations for more clarification due to a significant lack of knowledge. When we finally got to the different types of asexuals; homo-romantic, hetero-romantic, bi-romantic, pan-romantic, aromantic etc., that sets off new rounds of questions and amazingly actually has more than a few people understanding their own sexuality better.