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Saturday, October 9, 2010

GLBT History Month 2010 - Mara Keisling

Mara Keisling is one of the leading transgender activists.


Speaking of Sickening...


There have been a couple of diaries which discussed, in whole or in part, the incident involving the Latin King Goonies.

It would be so nice to believe that with the name Goonies involved, this would have been about something somewhat amusing...rather than out and out horrific. Last Sunday nine members of that street gang kidnapped and tortured three gay men, sodomizing at least two of them with a toilet plunger and a miniature baseball bat, robbed and beat the brother of one of the victims in a home invasion, and forced one of the victims to burn one of the others with a cigarette on a nipple and his penis, while they stood around and laughed.

It almost makes a person hope that the real Latin Kings took enough offense at these guys to really do something about them.

Ben Cohen Message - Teen Suicides


Howard University Gathers to Mourn Loss of Former Classmate, Address Reality of Student Suicides

By Yusef Najafi & Genet Lakew-

A former Howard University student died from suicide on Tuesday, Oct. 5, in her home state of California.
According to the university's college newspaper, The Hilltop, students organized a candlelight vigil for Aiyisha Hassan, 19, who attended Howard University from 2008 to the spring of 2010, on Thursday night.

Students at Thursday night's vigil

Amari Ice, 22, president of C.A.S.C.A.D.E., the Coalition of Activist Students Celebrating the Acceptance of Diversity and Equality, Howard University's LGBT student group, said Hassan was a lesbian who attended C.A.S.C.A.D.E. meetings regularly.

As the clock tower struck 10:00 p.m. and the bell rang, the flagpole became the site of prayer and remembrance Thursday night. Students gathered to mourn the loss of Aiyisha Hassan, who committed suicide on Tuesday.

After attending Howard from Fall 2008 until Fall 2009, Hassan returned to her California home. Details about her are forthcoming but for the night, students showed solidarity in remembering a fellow Bison.

Melech Thomas, senior communication and culture major, organized the impromptu vigil. He was in front of Douglass Hall around 1 p.m. Wednesday when he saw a young woman crying. He gave her a hug and asked what was wrong. The member of Misses at Meridian Outreach Society, an organization Hassan helped to establish, was crying because she found out about Hassan's death.

Thomas immediately spread the word through Twitter, asking students to meet at the flagpole for prayer.

LGBT activists stage NYC ‘die-in’ protest to honor suicide victims, demand civil rights

More than 300 LGBT activists dropped to the floor in Grand Central Station in New York City Friday evening in a demonstration of death, aimed at calling attention to the rash of recent bullying, torture, suicides, and murders of LGBT Americans.

At around 6 p.m. in the main concourse of the nation’s busiest transit hub, demonstrators lowered themselves to the ground and assumed a dead position, arms folded across their chests.

Event organizers J. Todd Fernandez and Eugene Lovendusky read the names of LGBT victims of murder or suicide prompted by anti-gay bullying and violence, while another organizer, Alan Bounville, unfurled a large yellow banner reading: “End Homo / Transphobic apartheid in America.”

Homophobia kills. That's a fact. Today we mourned the loss of all the queer people who have died due to homophobia, and to demand Congress outlaw homophobia by adding us to the Civil Rights laws.

Names of queer people we've lost were read aloud, and a large visual display was held to give attention to homo/transphobic-apartheid in America, and to demand our full civill rights. NOW.

Stay Involved:

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"In the Life" Profiles ACLU Client Martin Gill

Late last month, we celebrated a victory in a case the ACLU brought on behalf of Martin Gill, who challenged the Florida state law that bars gay people from adopting. In that victory, the state's 3rd District Court of Appeals found the adoption law violated the state constitution, upholding a similar decision by a family court in 2008. Gill, with his partner, has fostered two brothers—now ages 6 and 10—for the past 5 years.

The episode, called "Surviving the Past," will air on your local PBS station. Check local listings, or watch the entire episode online.

The state of Florida has until October 22 to appeal the 3rd District Court's decision. Stay tuned!


Anderson Cooper Joins Slew of Stars Sticking Up for Gay Teens

By Sheila Marikar-

Anderson Cooper's jumping into the fight to stop teen bullying, and he's found a foe in Vince Vaughn.

The CNN anchor visited "The Ellen Degeneres Show" this week to condemn teen bullying. A particular point of contention: Vaughn's upcoming movie "The Dilemma," in which his character proclaims, "Ladies and gentleman, electric cars are gay." A trailer for "The Dilemma" featuring that line is currently playing in theaters.

"There was a preview of a movie, and in it, the actor said, 'That's so gay,' and I was shocked that not only that they put it in the movie, but that they put that in the preview," Cooper said. "They thought that it was OK to put that in a preview for the movie to get people to go and see it."

"I just find those words, those terms, we've got to do something to make those words unacceptable cause those words are hurting kids," Cooper continued. "Someone else I talked to recently said that the words people use and the things people say about other kids online, it enters into their internal dialogue. And when you're a kid, it can change the way you see yourself and the way you think about yourself, and the worth that you give to yourself. I think we need to really focus on what language we're using and how we're treating these kids."

Universal, the studio putting out "The Dilemma," heard Cooper loud and clear. Today, Universal confirmed to GLAAD (The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) that they will remove the "gay" scene from the movie's trailer.

Cooper's not alone -- Hollywood loves a good cause. From dolphins to disasters of the natural kind, celebrities are, more often than not, quick to latch on to a crisis.

The latest one is particularly tragic. In September at least five teenage boys committed suicide after being tormented for being gay -- most recently Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi. Now, actors, musicians, comedians and celebrity personalities are making moves to stop teen bullying.


PFLAG Dad Sends Open Letter to Youth

“You deserve to be happy, you deserve to be alive, and you deserve to be loved.”

Washington, D.C. – John R. Cepek, national president of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) issued the following open letter to youth in light of the mounting reports of bullying, harassment, and suicide among youth:

Dear ___________,

I know it may seem strange that you’re getting a letter from someone you’ve never met. To be honest with you, I feel a little odd writing this letter to people I’ve never met. But this is a difficult time, and I want to make sure that someone delivers an important message to you.

My wife and I have two sons. We think that they are the best kids in the whole world. They’re very different, with very diverse personalities, talents, and interests. One of the other things that makes them different is that one is straight and one is gay.

But the important thing is this: we love them equally.

That’s why it is so painful to us to read the reports of the kids out there who have killed themselves because somehow they felt that their lives were not equal or worth living, either because they were mercilessly bullied and teased for being different, or tortured because they were gay.

That’s why I’m writing to you today. There have been a lot of people out there sending some important messages your way. They’ve been telling you that there are people who can help, and that it is going to get better, and your job is to be strong and stick it out. You should listen to them, because they’re right.
But as a dad, I want to send you one more message. Here it is: there are people who love you and accept you for who you are right now. Whether you’re gay or straight, it doesn’t matter.

I hope that your parents are among these people. I hope that in the same way I’m proud of both my sons, someone is proud of you just because you’re there and because you’re alive. You deserve that, no matter who you are or how different you feel.

But if for some reason you don’t feel like you’ve got that support, I want you to know that there are parents and families who love you. Maybe they’re people you already know. Or maybe they are people like me who you haven’t met yet, and the other parents who belong to a group that I’m a member of called PFLAG – Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

So if you’re reading this and feel like no one loves you for you who are today and who you’re becoming, I want you to do something for me. I want you to go online to and find a PFLAG chapter near you. Contact them and tell them your story. Ask them for help. Tell them what you’re experiencing, and tell them what you need. These are families who understand what is happening and who want to support you.

I can’t imagine a world in which either of my kids felt like life wasn’t worth living because people rejected them, and I have a hard time imagining what some of you might be going through right now. But please know that you’re not alone. There are people to talk to, and families and friends nearby who will support you and your own family, too. All you need to do is ask.

I hope that one day we will meet and I’ll know that you made it. You deserve to be happy, you deserve to be alive, and you deserve to be loved. Lots of people agree with me on that. Trust me.


John R. Cepek
President, PFLAG National


Walmart Selling Anti-Gay Kids’ Book

By Eric Ethington-

   Michael Aaron with QSaltLake has uncovered a story about Walmart selling anti-gay kids books. “Chased by an Elephant, the Gospel Truth about Today’s Stampeding Sexuality” pushes kids and their parents to be on the lookout for homosexuals who may force them into ‘sexual sin.’
Absolutely disgusting. Anyone else noticing that homosexuals are represented by the evil-eyed elephant on the cover? I feel another boycott coming on.

   From Q Salt Lake:
A children’s book written by the wife of anti-gay Standard of Liberty president Stephen Graham is being carried by over 100 Walmart stores. Chased by an Elephant, the Gospel Truth about Today’s Stampeding Sexuality by Janice Barrett Graham was written to “help shed the clear light of truth on today’s dark and tangled ideas about male and female, proper gender roles, the law of chastity, and the God-given sexual appetite,” according to Janice Graham in the book’s introduction.
“The number of our young people involved in sexual sins has greatly increased in recent years.  Some of the most stalwart-seeming youth find themselves involved in pornography, fornication, promiscuity, homosexuality, and the like,” Janice continued.

cross-posted with permission from PRIDEinUtah, Eric Ethington can also be followed on Facebook.


‘Horrifying’ Anti-Gay Attacks Stun The Bronx

   Police arrested seven individuals ranging in age from 16 to 23 for their roles in alleged anti-gay attacks Sunday. They are accused of anti-gay bias attacks that have shocked a University Heights neighborhood.

   “I don’t understand how people can do that to another human being whether he’s gay, whatever he is,” resident Geovany Rodriguez said.

   The alleged bloody beatings happened on Osborne Place early Sunday. Police said members of a gang known as the “Latin King Goonies” lured a 17-year-old into an unoccupied ground floor apartment.

   "He was thrown into a wall, made to strip naked, hit in the head with a beer can, cut with a box cutter, and sodomized with the wooden handle of a plunger,” NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

   Police said the gang questioned the teen about his contact with a 30-year-old man, and then let him go with a warning not to call police.

   Two other brutal attacks would follow — first on another 17-year-old, and then the 30-year-old himself, who was allegedly lured to the scene.

   "He was forced to strip to his underwear and then tied to a chair opposite from the teenager. The teenager, at the direction of his assailants, hit the older male several times in the face and burned him with a cigarette. The assailants also hit the man with their fists and a chain, and sodomized him with a small baseball bat,” Kelly said.

   Kelly said after dumping him unconscious the assailants went on to their next victim — the man’s brother who lived nearby.

   “Five assailants let themselves into his apartment through the front door, with keys taken from his brother. They pulled a blanket over the older brother’s head, beat him, and demanded money,” Kelly said.

   The victims were eventually freed, hospitalized and treated.

   The assailants scrubbed the scene top-to-bottom with bleach, even repainting the walls to make it look new, police said.

   “They could clean, but they couldn’t hide,” Kelly said.

   Investigators said they still found alcohol cans and hair at the scene. And an onlooker slipped a phone number to detectives, leading them to the primary suspect. The victims, initially reluctant, also started to divulge more details about the assaults, Kelly said. The Hate Crimes Task Force took over the investigation, along with Bronx robbery and gang division and special victims squad and arrested the seven men.

   City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the city’s highest-ranking openly gay official, called the attacks “vile” and “horrifying.”

   “These attacks are appalling and are even more despicable because the victims were clearly targeted in acts of hate simply because they are gay,” Quinn said. “The cowardly few who committed these crimes do not represent New Yorkers and our community will not be cowed by such violence.”

A weekend rally on anti-gay bias was planned following other crimes against gays.


Friday, October 8, 2010

GLBT History Month 2010 - Kevin Jennings

Kevin Jennings is the founder of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), the nation's first organization combating discrimination against GLBT students.


Jarrett at gay rights gala draws rebuke from 'Don't ask, don't tell' opponents


By Elise Viebeck -
   The nation's largest organization of gay troops and veterans released a statement on Friday protesting White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett's planned appearance at an annual gala for the Human Rights Campaign, a major LGBT group.
   Their rebuke highlights the rift that exists between the Obama administration and many members of the LGBT community who feel that the White House has not thrown sufficient weight behind the movement to repeal "Don't ask, don't tell."
   The repeal effort faced a major setback on Sept. 20 when Senate Democrats failed to garner the 60 votes necessary to advance a defense authorization bill that would have conditionally nullified the policy.
"We certainly do not feel like the White House is a 'strong supporter' of gay and lesbian troops and veterans right now," said Alexander Nicholson, the executive director of Servicemembers United, on Friday. "Before Jarrett appears at a black-tie fundraiser to tout the administration's 'strong support,' she should meet and talk with those who have actually been impacted by this discriminatory law and who continue to fight this uphill battle for the lives and livelihoods of gay and lesbian troops."
   Nicholson's statement also criticized the Human Rights Campaign for calling Jarrett and President Obama "strong supporters of those of those of us fighting for LGBT rights."
   Polling since 2007 have shown that a majority of the public supports repealing "Don't ask, don't tell."
The HRC's annual gala event, which will take place on Saturday, featured Obama as its keynote speaker last year.


Judge not...

I've been having a slow conversation through Facebook with a friend from high school. Hopefully she will show up here eventually. But she's a little busy training to be a Peace Corps volunteer, so we'll se.

In one of her messages she wrote:

You have an original voice. I know that transgender issues are understandably important to you, but I also find your posts on other subjects to be fascinating. You write with passion and are able to reduce the macrocosm down to the infinitely human microcosm.


Also, everyone changes as they live their lives. Most of us don't want to be judged, but if we are, we want to be judged by who we are now. As an old high school friend, I would like to see you address this type of issue in relationship to transgender politics.

I'll try to do that tonight...with a little bit of other stuff mixed in.

We'll Give a Damn when we GetEqual.

   GetEQUAL has launched a campaign called "We'll Give When We GetEQUAL," asking LGBT Americans and straight allies to withhold time and money from political entities that are not fighting as hard for our equality as they are for our checkbooks.

   We're not the first ones to voice frustration with both Democrats and Republicans for holding our equality hostage (see here, here, and here). And we're not going away -- despite the efforts of Democratic apologists who continue to raise the specter of President Palin to scare us into donating.

   Are we asking you not to vote? Absolutely not -- too many social movements have fought for that hard-earned right that must not be thrown away. Are we asking you not to donate or support pro-equality candidates? That's up to you -- there are several pro-equality candidates that need support, especially because they are minority voices in their party.

   Are we asking you to withhold money and time from those who refuse to find concrete ways to work toward our collective equality? YES!

   Our tolerance and patience -- while we lose our jobs, are denied our right to marry, are forbidden to serve our country openly, and are forced to watch our youth kill themselves because they have no dignity or hope -- is gone. We are asking you to withhold your support from political parties and committees until President Obama, the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, takes the first step toward LGBT equality and signs an Executive Order to IMMEDIATELY halt all military discharges of lesbian, gay, and bisexual soldiers.

   Why continue to organize on behalf of politicians when we need to be organizing for ourselves?

   Still not sure about the campaign? Check out our FAQ page to get all of your questions answered!

   DNC Vice Chair Ray Buckley responds to GetEQUAL campaign "We'll Give When We GetEQUAL" via email. The campaign calls on an immediate Executive Order to end the discharges under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" by President Obama. GetEQUAL is asking its supporters not to give time or money until that Executive Order is in place to protect the dignity of LGBT service members.


Call on Peruvian Authorities for Justice in Murder of HIV/AIDS and Gay Activist

The Issue

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) joins Boletín Diversidad and VIHDARTE in an urgent call to Peruvian authorities to demand a condemnation of homophobic hate crimes, a full and fair investigation into the murder of journalist and human rights activist, Alberto Osorio, and for all perpetrators to be brought to justice. At least 16 other gay or transgender people have been murdered under similar circumstances in Peru since 2009, and we call upon Peruvian authorities to act decisively to prevent such crimes and to protect the Peruvian LGBT community.


On the morning of 20 September 2010, the body of Alberto Osorio, 44, journalist and activist for the human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS, was found by his mother, Esther Castillo. Mrs. Castillo found her son’s body in his apartment in the district of San Martin de Porres in northern Lima. He had been tied to his bed with a cable and bruises on his body indicated that he was beaten before being strangled.
In addition to Alberto Osorio, at least eight other gay or transgender people were murdered in 2010 in similar circumstances, according to Boletín Diversidad, a Peruvian organization that monitors homophobic violence. According to their human rights report, at least another seven gay or trans people were murdered in 2009. These crimes repeat the pattern used in the murder of Alberto Osorio: the perpetrator seduces the victim, enters their home and then beats, kills and robs them.
There is more to these crimes than the sensationalist reports of some in the Peruvian media that, in their accounts of murders of gay and transgender people, portray LGBT victims as immoral instead of focusing on the arbitrary and violent nature of these hate crimes. In the case of Alberto Osorio’s death, their speculation included that the murder was revenge for intentional transmission of HIV or was the consequence of sadomasochistic practices gone too far. Rather what is needed is a focus on bringing the perpetrators of these crimes to justice.
Very few of the cases of gay men and transgender people who have been murdered over the past year have resulted in criminal prosecution. According to some LGBT activists in Peru, the failure to solve and prosecute these crimes is a result of homophobic bias. In those cases that did result in prosecutions, LGBT organizations maintain that the failure to bring specific charges relating to anti-gay hate crimes has led to weak convictions for the perpetrators. They argue that investigations and criminal charges must take into account the sexual orientation and/or gender identity of the victim as a potential motivation for the crime. Failing to do so allows for the impunity of perpetrators, underscores discrimination in the justice system itself, and leads to further hate crimes against LGBT people.
Alberto Osorio was a journalist and the president of VIHDARTE Centro de Desarollo Participativo Para Los Derechos y La Salud (Center for Participative Development for Health and Rights), a civil society organization he founded in 2001 to defend and promote the human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS. Alberto Osorio frequently denounced the Peruvian government’s neglect and indifference to drug and treatment shortages for people living with HIV/AIDS. As a representative of this community he was appointed member of the national commission on AIDS, Comité Nacional Multisectorial de Lucha contra el SIDA (CONAMUSA).

The Action

Join the International Gays and Lesbians Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) with Boletín Diversidad and VIHDARTE in an urgent call for letters to Peruvian authorities and demand from them: a condemnation of homophobic hate crimes, a full and fair investigation into Alberto Osorio’s murder, and for all perpetrators to be brought to justice, and for action to be taken to prevent such crimes.
Please send your message to the following authorities in Peru:
Fiscal de la Nacion
Dra. Gladys Margot Echaíz Ramos
Fax 511-4262800
Ministro del Interior
Sr. Pío Fernando Barrios Ipenza
Fax: 511- 2242403
Director de la Policia Nacional del Peru
Gral. de Policía Miguel Hidalgo Medina
Defensora del Pueblo
Dra. Beatriz Merino Lucero
Fax 511- 426-7889
Ministra de Justicia
Dra. Rosario Fernandez Figueroa
Please copy your communication to:
International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission
Fernando D'Elio
Boletín Diversidad
Victor Vazquez Maza
Asociación VIHDARTE
Amador Caballero


Adult Language -


GLBT History Month 2010-David Huebner


Stonewall Inn attacker: ‘I don’t discriminate against gays’


   One of the men who brutally beat a gay man in the bathroom of the gay Stonewall Inn on Sunday insists that he is not homophobic. An unapologetic Matthew Francis told Metro Weekly:
“I’m not going to sugarcoat what happened…It was a bar fight, but I swear on my life it’s not about gays or race or any of that. We don’t care about any of that stuff in this family.”
   He told the Daily News:
My sister’s a full-blown lesbian, I don’t discriminate against gay people.”
   Francis, 21, and Christopher Orlando, 17, were charged with assault as a hate crime and attempted robbery. The New York Daily News  reports the Staten Island men insist their attack on Ben Carver, 34, had nothing to do with his sexual orientation.
   According to the Daily News, Francis and Orlando entered the bathroom, asked Carver if he was gay, called him a f—-t and demanded money. Orlando pinned Carver down while Francis assaulted the D.C. man until he broke free. Stonewall bouncers chased and captured the men at the end of the street and police arrested them soon after. Carver, injured, required multiple stitches above his right eye.
   Carver’s attackers are due back in court tomorrow, and are currently looking for family members to post $10,000 bail to free them from jail until the hearing.

By Ben Carver-

Ben Carver
   It’s been a rough few days. I’m currently traveling on the Acela to New York for an awards show (my company was nominated for an award by PR News Magazine), and I’m a little shaken by the news coverage I’m reading right now. Apparently tales of me getting my ass kicked are circling the globe through various newspapers and blogs. I was particularly disturbed by the New York Daily News culling status updates from my Facebook page and the New York Times calling my mother in an attempt to contact me (It upset her because she didn’t know what was going on). I’ve been contacted by what seems to be every newspaper and television station in New York. Apparently this is a big story there.
   While I feel a certain amount of civic responsibility to bring awareness to the fact that anti-gay violence is an actionable issue, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. I have a demanding job, my entire body is sore from the attack, and I’ve got enough welts on my head to keep a low-grade headache coming in all directions. I also find the sensationalism of the press and the incorrect recounting by blogs to be less than exceptional. That being said, I appreciate the New York Post focusing more on me fighting back than in getting beat down.

The king of the ’down low’ discusses (& disses) Eddie Long

Coinciding with his appearance on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and the release of his new book in Chicago, author JL King discussed the Bishop Eddie Long scandal and the "down low" with EDGE.
Coinciding with his appearance on
"The Oprah Winfrey Show" and the
release of his new book in Chicago,
author JL King discussed the Bishop
Eddie Long scandal and the
"down low" with EDGE.

By Joseph Erbentraut-

    Atlanta-based author, activist and publisher JL King garnered national attention in 2004 when he hurled the contentious phrase "on the down low" or "the DL" into vernacular surrounding the spread of HIV/AIDS in the black community. And with a reappearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show on Thursday, Oct. 7, and a new book, King once again finds himself in the spotlight.

   In the six years since he published his first book-even as his seminal "down low" theory has come under serious question, King has remained undeniably quotable, particularly in his response to the most recent high-profile case of a man caught in the apparent thrills of DL loving: New Birth Missionary Baptist Church’s Bishop Eddie Long.

   King, who today identifies himself as a "black gay proud man", spoke openly about the Long scandal with CNN and other news outlets, and also weighed in with EDGE ahead of A Pair of White Tube Socks’ release in Chicago on Sunday, Oct. 10. He feels the Lithonia, Ga. megachurch leader’s predicament will not be the last outing with which the black church will have to grapple. King expects
church members, as well as those in the sports and entertainment industries, will follow closely behind him.

   "I wasn’t surprised at all that Eddie Long was called out the way he was," King told EDGE. "I think we’re going to see more powerful people in the church that are going to end up in the same boat as him. One day, there will come a time when a lot of powerful clergy within the African American community will be exposed and will need to admit to their homosexuality."

   A glut of openly black LGBT voices could prove influential in encouraging dialogue surrounding marriage equality-and perhaps more urgently the impact of HIV/AIDS among people of color. A Centers for Disease Control study last month found higher percentages of black men who have sex with men (MSM) who live with the virus are unaware of their status when compared to other demographics.

   King said the grim statistics for black MSM continue to reflect a stereotyped perception of the epidemic as "a gay disease." Anti-gay stigma remains rampant among communities of color, and King is not necessarily optimistic this reality will change anytime soon.

   "These numbers are frustrating and piss me off," said King. "We’ve been doing this work on HIV for 25 years and we’re still facing many of the same issues we faced 25 years ago. I don’t think we’re ever going to get to a point where the African American community will really jump on the bandwagon and do what it really needs to do in terms of education and prevention on HIV."

   Keith Boykin, author of Beyond the Down Low: Sex, Lies and Denial in Black America, and other activists have criticized King’s work since its original publication, particularly its "five signs" to identify a man on the down low and singling out black men apart from any person who cheats on a significant other, King admitted his perspective these issues has changed. His theory notably carries a much broader reach today than it originally had-though the author declined to comment on other aspects of his work that have since been questioned.

   "Everybody has a secret to keep, and whatever secret you’re keeping can be called ’DL’ behavior," said King, offering examples of a woman cheating on her husband or any person secretly cheating on a diet plan. "The term means different things to different people and you can’t only attribute it to men who have sex with men. The DL impacts all ethnicities and nationalities."

   But the legacy of King’s original theory carries on. It is still, for the most part, exclusively applied to black men who identify as heterosexual while engaging in secretive sexual acts with other men though CDC officials, as recently as last year, have proven the concept’s logic faulty at best. Some argue the "down low" theory’s continued ubiquitousness continues to stigmatize gay men and encourages the same spread of misinformation and silence around sexuality that brought on the behavior in the first place.

   In June, The View co-host Sherri Shepherd and guest host D.L. Hughley argued the down low continues to be "very prevalent" in the black community and was largely responsible for rising cases of HIV among African American women. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, in conjunction with the National Black Justice Coalition and the Black AIDS Institute, issued a national "call to action," but ABC refused to retract Sheperd and Hughley’s statements.

   Despite his deterrents, King remains dedicated to what he describes as a "crusade as a catalyst for positive change within communities" through his own work and the development of young writers of color through his publishing company, JL King Publishing. Author Adolphus Herndon, whom King met at a book event in Alaska, co-wrote A Pair of White Tube Socks.

   "Everybody has a story inside of them and I want to be the person who helps bring that story out," added King.


Gay teen endured a daily gantlet

As a gentle child grew into adolescence, the taunts and bullying intensified. Finally, Seth Walsh couldn't take any more.

When Seth Walsh came home from school, he would open the gate to a chain-link fence, walk beneath a tall red oak tree and be greeted by five dogs and two cats.

Seth lived with two brothers and a sister, four children from three fathers who were seldom around, supported by their mother who worked long hours as a hairdresser. Their home was a rental, a few blocks from Tehachapi's main street.

He was 13, and in the eyes of his grandparents, Jim and Judy Walsh, he was just a normal kid, pushing into adolescence. They looked forward to watching him grow up and never imagined that the harassment he experienced as a gay teenager, or his suicide, would resonate across the country.

Jim Walsh, the grandfather of Seth Walsh,
says that  when the teenager smiled,  "he
smiled with his whole face. He really meant
that smile for you." Seth, 13, hanged himself
after being confronted in a Tehachapi park.
Seth's mother, Wendy, is guarding her privacy, lost in grief, and his friends are keeping quiet at their parents' instructions. Only Jim and Judy are willing to share their memories.

They want to make sure their grandson isn't remembered only as "the gay kid who hung himself," so they tell stories about a bright and precocious child who enjoyed playing with their dog, Bambi, and who liked the Jonas Brothers and Magic Mountain.

"When he smiled," Jim says, "he smiled with his whole face. His eyes twinkled. It wasn't just the smile. You got it from the eyes and the beaming of the face. He really meant that smile for you."

Judy and Jim still laugh over his tastes. He colored his hair blond on occasion and wore it with a long swoop that partly covered his eyes. Judy took him shopping once, and he went to the girl's department to find pants with tapered legs. He added a vest, and a few months later she noticed the style everywhere.

His favorite songs were Nat King Cole's "Smile" and Bobby Darin's "Beyond the Sea," and he listened to Mozart in the shower. His favorite stop in Bakersfield was Barnes & Noble; he liked James Herriot's books about animals.

He was a gentle child, they say, who preferred to "relocate bugs" rather than kill them, who made sure his younger brother got his share of Easter eggs and who once apologized to a bed of flowers when he picked one and placed it on the grave of the family dog.

But the Walshes realize that Seth's gentleness made him a target, and they recall listening to Wendy as she shared her worries about Seth and what he had to endure.

Youth Advocates, Educators Gather for Premiere of SPLC’s New Film to Combat Anti-Gay Bullying

A crowd gathered Tuesday night for the Washington, D.C., premiere of the SPLC’s latest Teaching Tolerance film, a classroom documentary designed to combat anti-gay bullying.
Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case that Made History premiered at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center on Oct. 5 at an event that highlighted the destructive power and the tragic consequences of anti-gay bullying.
SPLC President Richard Cohen and co-founder Morris Dees introduced the film, noting the need for schools to adopt strong anti-bullying policies that specifically protect gay and lesbian students.
The SPLC is making the film and teaching kit available – free of charge – to every school in the country. Educators have already ordered more than 17,000 kits. The release of Bullied coincides with National Bullying Prevention Month, in October. “In recent weeks we’ve seen a number of teens take their own lives after enduring anti-gay harassment,” Cohen said. “Each tragedy is a sobering reminder of our responsibility to take a stand against anti-gay bullying in our schools. Bullied is a way for students and educators to confront this issue head on.”
Bullied chronicles the powerful story of a student who stood up to his anti-gay tormentors and won a landmark federal court decision 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 September, at least four teens killed themselves after being subjected to anti-gay bullying and harassment. In the Anoka-Hennepin school district in Minnesota, at least four students have committed suicide in the past year alone.
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 survey by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). 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 Nabozny and his parents.
“Students should never be afraid for their safety at school,” said Nabozny, now 34. “That’s the message we want to be heard in every school across the country.”
The SPLC is urging school districts to adopt policies that specifically address bullying based on sexual orientation or gender expression.
Bullied and its teaching kit can be ordered here. The film has been endorsed by the National Education Association, GLSEN and many other organizations. The viewer’s guide contains classroom tools and professional development materials.
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.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Gay Member of New Birth Church Speaks Out

By Tony Anderson, BET News-

   Samuel Brown is a member of New Birth Church, the same church where Bishop Eddie Long has preached many anti-gay sermons. In 2004, Long led a march in Atlanta in support of banning same-sex marriage. Brown also happens to be a gay male.

   Brown and his life partner Derrick joined New Birth initially, not saying a word about their sexuality to anyone. In light of the allegations of sexual misconduct surrounding Bishop Eddie Long, Brown has decided to share his story exclusively with BET News to express his discontent with his pastor.

Jane Castor - Chief of Police & Out Lesbian

In The Life Media profiles out Lesbian Jane Castor, the Chief of Police in Tampa, FL.


12 years ago today

   12 years ago today, Aaron Kreifels was riding his bike through a field in Wyoming. He wasn’t expecting that day to be any different from any other beautiful sunny morning in the vast plains surrounding Laramie, but that day would change many lives.
   Aaron spotted what he initially thought was a pile of rags next to a fence, when he noticed a glisten of blood. The sun sparked on what he barely recognized as a face. It was then he discovered the 22 year-old Matthew Shepard, clinging to life.
   Most of you know what happened next, Matthew held on for five more days while vigils were held and as his parents held his hand and prayed. Matthew slipped away quietly on October 12th, leaving in his wake a new movement for equality.
   Since then, Matthew’s mother Judy has made it her personal mission to protect all young LGBT people from Matthew’s horrific fate. In founding the Matthew Shepard Foundation, she has created safe spaces in and outside of schools for kids, and worked with parents to ensure their children learn to erase hate from their lives.
   But overwhelmingly what you saw in 1998 was a community ready to act, ready to change something. And Matthew’s story was the catalyst for that. Many of you have seen or read the Moises Kaufman play, The Laramie Project – Matthew’s story as told through interviews of those who were living in Laramie at the time – some of his friends and some who just happened to be riding a bike through the plains of Wyoming that day. If we think of nothing else today, please consider the importance of telling your story – how your story can change the world around you.
   This young boy, unbeknownst to him, has changed the world with his story.

It Gets Better - Stephanie Miller


Transgender Teen amid Royal Dilemma

   DALLAS - A transgender senior at North Dallas High School wants to run for homecoming queen. But school administrators won't allow it.
   Andy Moreno was born a male but has identified herself as female for the past year. She looks and acts like a girl.
   She said that has never caused any problems for her at school.
   However, her nomination for homecoming queen has caused some controversy.
   "I don't have anyone that doesn't want me to run, the only people that have a problem with it is the administration," she said. "I was told by one of the counselors that I should prepare myself because a lot of the administration has a problem with me running."
   Moreno immediately spoke to the principal for support with the nomination. The principal told her she should run for king instead of homecoming queen.
   "Which I don't feel comfortable with because I identify myself as a woman and not as a male, and a king is a male," she said.
   Friends are supporting her. Other students said they were not bothered by the idea of Moreno becoming homecoming queen.
   "I don't think it is fair because there is no rule in the book that says a male cannot do anything like that," said Ignacio Ortega.
   That's true. The Dallas Independent School District said there is no policy on the matter. Instead the decision is left to the principal.
   North Dallas High School administrators would not comment.
   "The district fully supports the decision of the principal at North Dallas High School. It should be noted that the Dallas Independent School District is proud to have one of the most aggressive anti-harassment policies among school districts in the state of Texas," DISD said in a statement.

   The ACLU has expressed interest in the case, reported a Sept. 27 follow-up story at WOOD-8, and the teen said that he would be open to the idea. "I’d be willing to talk to them," Oak told the news channel.
   The case "raises some concern about how the school has chosen to treat people based on gender," said lawyer Jay Kaplan, who is with the organization’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Legal Project. "Hopefully, they’ll reconsider the action that they’ve taken," Kaplan said of the school.
   But the school’s principal, Jennifer Bustard, reaffirmed the school’s stance. "In order to be eligible for homecoming king, the ballot clearly states you must be a boy," Bustard told WOOD-8. "For homecoming queen, you must be a girl." Added Bustard, "He--as I use the pronoun correctly out of respect--is not a boy."
   A Facebook page supporting Oak says that the teenager received a majority of votes for Homecoming King, but Bustard denied this, saying that votes for Oak were not counted once the administration realized who was running. Text at the page also says that in disqualifying Oak, the school "promoted transphobia."
   Bustard sees the issue differently. "The school must be consistent when it comes to gender," she told WOOD-8.
   Allowing a gay or transgendered student to run for school event royalty would not be without precedent. Earlier this year, two boys at a high school in Hudson, New York, ran jointly for the titles of Prom King and Queen, and won.
   The ACLU was involved in the case of Constance McMillen, the lesbian high school student who sued her school earlier this year for refusing to allow her to wear a tuxedo and escort a female date to her school’s prom in rural Mississippi. The school canceled the prom rather than allow McMillen to bring another girl as a date to the event; a private prom was then hosted, but McMillen and a handful of other classmates did not attend. They ended up at another, poorly attended, dance at a different location. The school denied accusations that McMillen and the others had been shunted to a "sham prom."

    Students at the College of William and Mary elected a transgender homecoming queen in 2009. Jessee Vasold took the field Saturday at halftime of the Williamsburg school's football game against James Madison. The junior and other members of the homecoming court were introduced to the crowd and posed for pictures.
    Vasold identifies as "genderqueer," a term for those who don't adhere to either strictly male or strictly female gender roles.


Protect LGBT Students from Harassment and Discrimination

   Discrimination against LGBT students in schools across this country is an unacceptable daily reality. Every student deserves the opportunity to attend school and learn without the fear that they will be targeted for harassment and discrimination simply based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The ACLU's own work advocating for equal protection for LGBT students is replete with examples of those who have suffered discriminatory treatment at the very hands of those tasked with providing them with an education and ensuring their safety within schools. For example—
A female student in a northern California school district faced daily anti-gay harassment and discrimination from teachers and school staff and was required to participate in a school-sponsored "counseling" group designed to discourage students from being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Specific incidents included—
A teacher approached the young woman while she was hugging her girlfriend and said, "This is ungodly, and you're going to hell. This is a sin."
Another teacher said, "What's wrong with you? What are you, a man or a woman?"
Other school staff made repeated harassing comments in front of the student's classmates, including saying, "It's not right to be this way."
The student was also on several occasions denied access to the girls' locker room.
In response to the harassment and discrimination the young woman experienced at her school she said, "All I ever wanted was to be able to go to school and just be myself. But I couldn't do that when the people I was supposed to be learning from were judging me and telling me something was wrong with me. How was I supposed to learn when I was constantly scared?" 

Take action now and demand passage of H.R. 4530/S. 3390, the Student Non-Discrimination Act.

   Two male students in a public school in Memphis, Tennessee had their private relationship revealed to the school principal by another student. In response, the principal wrote their names on a list she posted next to her desk, in full view of anyone who entered her office. Although the boys had never been observed by any school staff engaging in any display of affection, the principal called one of their mothers. According to the mother, the principal said things like "Did you know your son is gay?" repeatedly and went on to say that she didn't like gay people and wouldn't tolerate homosexuality at her school. Both students reported that they had to endure verbal harassment from both teachers and students as a result of the principal's actions.
   A female student in a public high school in Orange County, California was repeatedly singled out for discipline (including a one-week suspension), had her sexual orientation revealed to her family without her permission by school officials, and was forced to transfer to another school in the middle of the second semester. The student, who previously had straight-A grades and a spotless disciplinary record, was punished for occasionally showing affection towards her girlfriend, even though heterosexual students were routinely allowed to hold hands, hug and kiss on campus.
   These three examples, rather than being the rare instance of discriminatory treatment, speak directly to the experiences of daily life for many LGBT students. In a comprehensive 2007 study of 6,209 middle and high school students entitled the National School Climate Survey, nine out of 10 LGBT students reported that they had experienced harassment at their school in the past year. Additionally, three-fifths felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and about a third reported that they had skipped a day of school in the past month because of feeling unsafe. Such a toxic environment denies LGBT students their right to an equal education and contributes to unacceptably high rates of absenteeism, dropouts, adverse health (including mental health) consequences, and academic underachievement.

Take action now and demand passage of H.R. 4530/S. 3390, the Student Non-Discrimination Act.

   The Student Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 4530) will help ensure that ALL students have access to a safe and fair educational environment. The bill establishes a comprehensive federal prohibition against discrimination in public schools based on a student's actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity and provides victims with meaningful and effective remedies modeled after Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972.

More Information on ACLU Cases Involving Harrassment and Discrimination of LGBT Students:
High School Student Takes On Anti-Gay Harassment And Wins
Video: Change Your School: Charlene Nguon
Nguon v. Wolf - ACLU Case Profile
Outing at Hollis F. Price Middle College High School - ACLU Case Profile
Gillman v. Holmes County School District - ACLU Case Profile
Russellville, Alabama School Prom Discrimination
Video: Alabama Student Wins Permission to Bring Girlfriend to Prom


Pastor GOP House Candidate Blasts NOM For Sending Out ‘Tasteless’ And Unwanted Anti-Gay Campaign Fliers

   Pastor Brian Hale, the GOP House candidate in Maine, was hoping to challenge incumbent Rep. Jeffrey McCabe (D) using the “fiscal conservative” label. But thanks to the unwanted help from the right-wing National Organization of Marriage (NOM), Hale is now dealing with the “homophobe” label. Last week, NOM began filling local mailboxes with a two-sided flier that “features a smiling family of four with a ‘Welcome to Maine, the way life should be’ placard and a single photograph of Hale.” On the flip side, the flier displays a photograph of McCabe, his email address, and two men in bow ties, arm-in-arm, standing atop a wedding cake. This side’s placard reads, “Now it’s time to let Jeff McCabe know we don’t agree with his decision to back same-sex marriage.”    While the fliers carried Hale’s name and email address, they also carry the return address for NOM’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. “I never heard of the National Organization of Marriage until I pulled it out of the mailbox,” Hale said. Though Hale is against marriage equality, he decried the effort as a “tasteless” and “inappropriate” tactic that is only helping to paint him as a “homophobe“:
“I think this is tasteless; I’m not enjoying this,” Hale said Monday. “I think this is an incidence of friendly fire — someone thought they were helping me and they’re not. I’m running as a fiscal conservative — that’s what I’m going around talking to people about. I’m not running an anti-gay campaign. The first time that I heard anything about this or its contents is when I pulled it out of my mailbox.”
Hale said he showed the flier to his wife and daughters and they agreed that it was inappropriate. His 16-year-old daughter Hanna called it “really creepy,” he said.
“People are thinking I am the one who put this out,” Hale said. “I can see how one might understand that — it has my photo on it and my e-mail address, both of which I believe were pulled off the Internet. People are seeing this and saying, ‘Pastor Hale is a homophobe’ — and I’m not.”
Watch it here:

    Hale also pointed out that the family NOM pictured “isn’t even his.” Both Hale and the chairman of the local Republican Party Chris Perkins phoned McCabe to disown the fliers and ensure their opponent that “the party does not support that type of campaign.” McCabe said the mailer had “hateful tones” with a “hate-filled” message about an issue he views as “an issue of equal rights.” While NOM’s tactic may not work for the local GOP in Maine, this latest proactive move certainly compliments NOM’s hate-filled strategy to promote an anti-gay agenda by any means necessary.


Keeping Gender Stereotypes Out of Classrooms

By Galen Sherwin-
   Increasingly, school districts throughout the country are instituting single-sex classes in coeducational public schools based on faulty and outdated stereotypes. Many of these programs are rooted in the theories of single-sex education proponents Leonard Sax and Michael Gurian, who assert that girls and boys brains are so different they need to be taught separately. Their faulty ideas include the theory that girls should not be given time limits on tests because they can't handle the stress, and boys are better at math due to daily surges of testosterone. The National Association for Single-Sex Public Education, a group that advocates for sex segregation, asserts that there are now more than 500 public schools in the country that have single-sex programs, up from only 11 in 2002.
   Yesterday, the ACLU asked a federal court of appeals in Louisiana to end a sex-segregation policy in a Vermilion Parish public middle school because it was based on these same discredited theories about how boys and girls learn. Our claim was that the program discriminates by separating girls and boys into separate classes and denies students the right to a public education free from gender stereotypes.
   Here's how this played out in Louisiana: Two weeks before school opened in the fall of 2009, the district informed families at Rene A. Rost Middle School in Vermilion Parish that classes would be segregated by sex. When a mother, represented by the ACLU, objected, the district agreed to offer a parallel track of coeducational classes and to make participating in the single-sex program voluntary.
   On the first day of school, however, the mother discovered that her daughters had been placed in single-sex classes against her wishes. What's more, all the "gifted and talented" students had been assigned to the single-sex classes, while the special needs students had been assigned to the coed classes.
   It later became clear that the school principal had not only disregarded parents' wishes for whether their children should be enrolled in the single-sex classes, but he had also misrepresented to the school district that students' grades and discipline had improved during a pilot study of sex segregated classes. In reality, they hadn't. When the ACLU challenged the program in court, the school district defended its decision to employ different teaching methods for boys and girls—different methods based on sex stereotypes.
   The legal basis for our claims is simple: the program illegally discriminates against both boys and girls in violation of Title IX, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, including sex stereotypes, in schools that accept public funds. It also violates the 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection, which prohibits the use of stereotypes about boys' and girls' learning styles and requires the existence of an extremely persuasive justification for separating boys and girls in public schools.
   Unfortunately, the district court sided with the school district. We appealed that decision in June—yesterday's hearing addressed that appeal. Whatever you may think about teaching girls and boys separately, we should all be concerned about the proliferation of broad, outdated stereotypes in education that limit options for boys and girls alike. Schools play an important role in shaping how young people view themselves and others. They can be places of great opportunity or sow the seeds of future inequality.
   What's more, there is no proof that separating girls from boys results in better-educated kids or helps to turn a struggling educational system around. While there is no doubt that we need to find new strategies that can help improve academic achievement, we cannot let gender stereotypes continue to take root in our children's classrooms — the cost is simply too high. Hopefully, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will agree.


Glenn Beck's Expert Who Wants the Government to Regulate Homosexuality

Photo credit: david_shankborn
By Michael Jones-
   You know how Glenn Beck is always trying to tell you that the government is trying to take over everything, and that we're heading toward a Socialist society unless the masses rally and stir a revolution? Big government is no friend to the Glenn Beck crowd.
   Looks like one of Beck's go-to guys missed the message. Meet David Barton, an evangelical powerhouse who has immediate connections with a host of GOP powerhouses, including Newt Gingrich, Sen. John McCain, and Florida Senate candidate Marco Rubio. Barton is a regular contributor on Glenn Beck's program, and even serves as a professor at "Beck University," Glenn Beck's online university charade.
   Turns out that Barton wants a massive government. Or, well, at least a government that regulates homosexuality. After all, Barton says, if we're letting government regulate school lunches, we should have government regulate homosexuality, which Barton views as unhealthy. Check out his comments on his radio show this week, courtesy of Right Wing Watch.
   "So if I go to the Centers for Disease Control and I’m concerned about health, I find some interesting stats there and this should tell me something about health. Homosexual/bi-sexual individuals are seven times to contemplate or commit suicide. Oooh, that doesn’t sound very healthy," Barton says. "Homosexuals die decades earlier than heterosexuals. That doesn’t sound healthy. Nearly one-half of practicing homosexuals admit to five hundred or more sex partners and nearly one-third admit to a thousand or more sex partners in a lifetime."
   Know what else doesn't sound very healthy? Listening to talk radio personalities who don't know their ass from their elbow.
   Barton goes to say that if we tell Kindergartners that salt is bad for them, we ought to tell them that homosexuality is bad for them, given his run down of the facts.
   No mention by Barton, of course, of the negative health effects brought on by a culture steeped in homophobia. You know, the fact that depression and anxiety are caused by an entire society telling you that you're a second class citizen. That suicide rates are sky high in countries that don't have good laws on the books making sure that openly LGBT people don't get fired from their jobs, bullied in school, denied access to the military, or told that they can't love the person they want to be with in life.
Barton conveniently leaves those facts out. But he does go on to read a treatise from 1814 on the sodomy.
1814. Huh, maybe Barton was going for some text that was reflective of the times in which his anti-gay politics are rooted?
   Memo to Glenn Beck: a few weeks ago you said that same-sex marriage wasn't really a big deal to you, and that you had bigger fish to fry. If that's the case, then maybe it's time to stop giving airtime and political play to a man like Barton, who would rather see the U.S. approach the subject of homosexuality as if it were the 19th century.

Michael Jones is a Editor. He has worked in the field of human rights communications for a decade, most recently for Harvard Law School. 


Victoria needs your help

Candidate for Alameda County Superior Court Judge, California

  • Run-off Election: Nov. 2, 2010
  • Contribution Limit: None

Victoria Kolakowski, a lawyer with a strong background as an LGBT civil rights advocate, is running for a seat on Superior Court of Alameda County, California.  If she wins, Victoria will become America’s first openly transgender judge.

While her win will be historic, Victoria’s desire to become a judge is about continuing her impressive public service.  She began her law career in the late eighties and practiced law until the late nineties. She has served on numerous boards and acted as general counsel for the California Electricity Oversight Board. She was a founding board member and officer of California Alliance for Pride and Equality, now known as Equality California. Kolakowski also helped draft Berkeley’s domestic partnership registry ordinance and helped multiple cities implement benefits and protections for domestic partnerships.

Help this qualified, committed legal professional become a judge by contributing to her campaign today.

Give online today or write checks to: Kolakowski for Judge 2010

If elected, Victoria would be the country's first openly transgender judge.

But transgender men and women are under attack in this country from extremists who use horrific language to demonize them.

One blogger even called Victoria a "female impersonator" who has had "His normal, healthy Male Genitals Mutilated in to a grotesque mockery of the opposite gender."

Join us in standing up for Victoria right now.  Help her win this close election and show the bigots that our hope can triumph over their fear.

 Victoria Kolakowski
 Alameda County Superior Court Judge, California
Learn more and Contribute


Pew resesarch confirms growing support for marriage equality

By Nan Hunter-

   The Pew Foundation, one of the nation's 662-1 most respected survey research organizations, issued a report today confirming what several recent media polls have shown: that public support for same-sex marriage is steadily increasing. The Pew data provide demographic breakdowns showing that this support is growing in each subgroup of the population, although at different rates. Substantial differences remain based on age, race, gender, and political and religious affiliation.
From Pew:
   Polls this year have found that more Americans favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally than did so just last year. In two polls conducted over the past few months, based on interviews with more than 6,000 adults, 42% favor same-sex marriage while 48% are opposed. In polls conducted in 2009, 37% favored allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally and 54% were opposed. For the first time in 15 years of Pew Research Center polling, fewer than half oppose same-sex marriage.
   The shift in opinion on same-sex marriage has been broad-based, occurring across many demographic, political and religious groups. Notably, pluralities of white mainline Protestants and white Catholics now favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally – the first time this has occurred in Pew Research Center surveys. Political independents are divided in their views of same-sex-marriage; in 2009, they opposed it by a wide margin.
   There are substantial age and generational differences in opinions about same-sex marriage. Millennials, born after 1980, favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally by a 53% to 39% margin. Support for gay marriage among Millennials has changed little in recent years, but is up from 2004 when opinion was more divided. Among Gen Xers (born 1965 to 1980), 48% now favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally while 43% are opposed. Support is up from 2009 when 41% favored this and 50% were opposed, but is on par with levels in 2001.
   There is less support for same-sex marriage among Baby Boomers – those born 1946 to 1964 – than among younger age groups. Currently, 38% favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally while 52% are opposed. Still, support among Baby Boomers has increased over the past year (from 32%).
The Silent Generation (born 1928 to 1945) continues to oppose same-sex marriage; just 29% favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally while 59% are opposed. Even among the Silent Generation, however, there is somewhat more support than in 2009 (23% favor) and substantially greater support than in 2003, when just 17% backed gay marriage.
   There also are substantial partisan differences on the issue of same-sex marriage. A majority of Democrats (53%) favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally while 38% are opposed. By contrast, only 24% of Republicans support same-sex marriage and 69% are opposed.
   Independents and other non-partisans are now divided in their view: 44% favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally while 43% are opposed. In 2009, more independents opposed same-sex marriage than favored it (37% favor, 51% oppose). Throughout the past decade, opinion among independents has tracked more closely with Democrats than Republicans on this issue.
   Among Democrats and Republicans there is a substantial ideological divide. Liberal Democrats favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally by more than a three-to-one margin (75% favor, 20% oppose). And conservative Republicans oppose same-sex marriage by an equally wide margin (16% favor, 77% oppose). But moderate Republicans and Democrats are more divided in their views. While 41% of moderate and liberal Republicans support same-sex marriage, 51% are opposed. Similarly, 41% of conservative and moderate Democrats favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally and 48% are opposed.
   Whites are now evenly divided over gay marriage; in polls conducted this year, 44% of non-Hispanic whites favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally and 46% are opposed. In three surveys between August 2008 and August 2009, 39% of non-Hispanic whites favored same-sex marriage compared with 52% who were opposed.
   By contrast, blacks continue to oppose same-sex marriage by a wide margin. In 2010, just 30% of non-Hispanic blacks favor gay marriage while 59% are opposed. From 2008 to 2009, 28% of blacks favored same-sex marriage and 62% were opposed (surveys were combined to increase sample size). Notably, the gender, age and education differences among the general public are mirrored among whites and blacks; however, there is far less support among all subgroups of blacks.
   Overall, women continue to be more supportive of same-sex marriage than are men. Opinion among women is evenly divided: 46% favor same-sex marriage and 45% are opposed. Roughly four-in-ten (38%) men support allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally while 51% are opposed.
   A majority (52%) of college graduates favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally. Support is much lower among those without a college degree – 46% with some college education and 34% with a high school education or less support same-sex marriage. But among these two education groups, more now favor same-sex marriage than did so over the past two years.
   Americans living in the Midwest are now evenly split over same-sex marriage; 44% favor and 44% oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally. Opinion has shifted substantially since 2008 and 2009 when only 36% in the Midwest favored this and 54% were opposed. Support also is up in the South but a majority (55%) continues to oppose allowing same-sex marriage. As was the case over the past two years, more in the Northeast favor than oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally (49% vs. 41%). Those living in the West are about evenly divided in their opinion (47% favor, 45% oppose).
   About half (49%) of white mainline Protestants support same-sex marriage while 38% oppose this. This is a reversal of opinion from the past two years when 40% favored and 49% opposed allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally. Just 35% of white mainline Protestants who attend church at least once a week favor same-sex marriage, nearly the same percentage as in 2008-2009 (34%). Among those who attend services less often, support has increased by 11 points (from 42% to 53%). There has been a similar shift among white Catholics – 49% now favor same-sex marriage while 41% are opposed. Opinion was more evenly divided over the past two years (44% favor, 45% oppose). Here too, support has increased among those who attend services less than weekly, from 51% in 2008-2009 to 59% in 2010.
   White evangelical Protestants overwhelmingly oppose gay marriage (20% favor vs. 74% oppose), and these opinions have changed little since 2008-2009. Similarly, black Protestants continue to oppose gay marriage by a wide margin (28% favor vs. 62% oppose).
   By contrast, Jews and the unaffiliated have remained far more supportive of same-sex marriage. Their views also have changed little during this time. Three-quarters of Jews (76%) and 62% of the religiously unaffiliated say they favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally.