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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Finns Dump Evangelical Church Over Antigay Comments

   Tens of thousands of people are estimated to have left the Finnish Evangelical-Lutheran Church because of antigay comments made during a televised debate last week. FINNISH EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH X390   According to the Helsinki Times, “The number leaving increased sharply on 12 October following the broadcast of a debate programme focused on gay rights on Network 2 of the Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle). By Monday 18 October, more than 24,000 people had left Finland’s Evangelical-Lutheran and Orthodox Churches.”
   More than 5,000 people left the state church on Monday alone, likely a record for departures in a single day. Increasing numbers of middle-aged adults and women have joined the exodus.
   Stefan Wallin, the nation's minister for church affairs, placed blame for the exodus on Päivi Räsänen, the leader of the Christian Democrats and a debate guest, who represents Christian values.


And Massachusetts shall show the way. The Arc Toward Justice.

In 2004, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts began civilly recognizing same-sex marriages. While predictions of calamity caused by this historic event have not come true, the legislative debate continues.

The Arc Toward Justice Project is an independent effort to compile and present long and short form video of the most compellingly good - and bad - highlights of the debate.

In March 2004 we released this video, "The Arc Toward Justice," a compilation of speeches by those state senators and representatives who stood up for equal marriage rights during the heated and highly politicized debate in the Statehouse.

QuickTime versions of this video can be downloaded from


Portraits of Discrimination

Rock for Equality is a national event to demand equal Social Security benefits for all LGBT Americans. This year we will rally on April 11th in Los Angeles to demand equal benefits for our LGBT seniors. Please join us in raising awareness about one of the most under recognized and harshly consequential issues in the LGBT movement! Join us at


What Kind of Planet Are We On?

Rock for Equality is a national event to demand equal Social Security benefits for all LGBT Americans. This year we will rally on April 11th in Los Angeles to demand equal benefits for our LGBT seniors. Please join us in raising awareness about one of the most under recognized and harshly consequential issues in the LGBT movement! Join us at


Non-Discrimination is the Name of the Game at LGBT Career Fair

By Maia Spotts-

There's not much super fun about a job interview. Uncomfortable suit, explaining that six month gap on your resumé, having to say, "I think my biggest fault is that I'm a perfectionist" with a straight face. And, for some, waiting for that moment when you may have to address the fact that you're not heterosexual.

After law school I had an interview with a high-powered attorney. Everything was going really well, and then he started reading over my resumé. And I knew what was coming. "What's OUTlaw?" Here we go. "OUTlaw is an on-campus organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students." Pause. "Oh."
I can't say with any shred of conviction that the man interviewing me was anti-gay. (Although his current stance as a candidate for California State Attorney General gives me a clue...) But personally, I felt a heaviness for the rest of the interview, as though where he used to see smart, accomplished law student he now only saw lesbian. I didn't want it to be a factor, but I didn't want to leave OUTlaw off of my resumé, either. In any case, I got the job.

I thought of that yesterday, when I walked into the career fair at Lavender Law, the annual LGBT Bar Association legal conference, which was a sight to behold. A huge room, packed table after table with law firms, legal companies, non-profits, the Department of Justice, all companies with non-discrimination policies firmly in place, all seeking to interview the best and brightest LGBT law students this country has to offer.
When a company steps up and actively participates in the recruitment of LGBT students it sends a message. And the message is simple: we want you to work for us, and we respect you as a crucial part of our workforce. The sense of relief in the room was palpable. I overheard one eager job seeker saying how she was so glad to not have to use her "closet" cards -- those wiped clean of any LGBT references.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) doesn't have the power to erase bigotry, but it does have the power to elevate LGBT candidates to a higher level of respect and empowerment than we currently enjoy in searching for a job. It would give us all the freedom to walk in to a job interview and expose as much, or as little, of our personal life as we choose without fear that our sexual orientation will trump our merit.


Attacks reported on Ugandans newspaper 'outed' as gay

Man holding copy of the Rolling Stone
The Rolling Stone says it will continue
to publish the names of homosexuals
Several people have been attacked in Uganda after a local newspaper published their names and photos, saying they were homosexual, an activist has told the BBC.

Frank Mugisha said one woman was almost killed after her neighbours started throwing stones at her house.

He said most of those whose names appeared in Uganda's Rolling Stone paper had been harassed.
Last year, a local MP called for the death penalty for some homosexual acts.
The proposed Anti-homosexuality Bill sparked an international outcry and a year later has not been formally debated by parliament.

Homosexual acts are already illegal in Uganda and activists say the gay community still lives in fear.
"We have got people who have been threatened to be thrown out of work, people who have been threatened by their own family members, who want to throw them out of their own houses," said Mr Mugisha of the Sexual Minorities Uganda.

In the past, the government has accused homosexual groups of using claims of harassment to seek attention and funding, but this was strongly denied by Mr Mugisha.

Giles Muhame, editor of the two-month-old Rolling Stone paper, denied that he had been inciting violence by publishing the names next to a headline which read "Hang them".

He said he was urging the authorities to investigate and prosecute people "recruiting children to homosexuality", before executing anyone found guilty.

He also said he was acting in the public interest, saying Ugandans did not know to what extent homsexuality was "ravaging the moral fabric of our nation", and he vowed to continue to publish the names and photographs of gay Ugandans.

It has so far identified 15 of the 100 names it said it would reveal.

The BBC's Joshua Mmali in Kampala says a newspaper that was barely known in a country with a poor reading culture, has now grabbed international headlines, while attracting wide condemnation from gay and human rights groups.

Mr Mugisha said he had written to both the Ugandan Media Council and police asking them to take action against the Rolling Stone but had not had any response.

The police said they had not received any formal complaints of any attacks.


GLBT History Month 2010 - Jalal Rumi

Visit for more about Jalal al-Din Rumi - a poet, theologian and Sufi mystic. He founded the Order of the Whirling Dervishes, a branch of the Sufi tradition that practices a gyrating dance ritual representing the revolving stages of life.


Speaker Pelosi: It Gets Better

Speaker Pelosi adds her voice to the chorus of Americans across the country as part of the It Gets Better Project to tell LGBT youth: you are not alone, it gets better.


Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: A Gay Marine Writes


The United States Armed Forces Recruiting Station in New York’s Times Square.
The author is an active duty Marine Sergeant in his mid twenties. He enlisted in 2002, served two tours in Iraq, and is now back in the United States. He has asked that his name not be published.

A Letter to the Military:

The Pentagon has said that recruiters have been told to accept applicants who say they are gay, as reported in ‘U.S. Military Moves to Accept Gay Recruits’.
So the policy of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ has been dealt the equivalent of a shotgun blast to the face. It’s true that the legal maneuvering of the President and Department of Justice have extended the life of DADT, but it only has enough strength to stumble around for another moment. It will soon gasp its dying breath anyway.

Where does that leave us? Honestly, exactly where we were yesterday: in Afghanistan, at boot camp, driving an MRAP, in the barracks, in the cockpit, on leave, on a Marine Expeditionary Unit, and probably within shouting distance of where you’re sitting.
The difference is that now we need to start discussing how to work through repeal. Despite what you’ve heard, this will not be a painful process. If you take a moment to think about it, the only real change is that you’ll no longer pretend that you can’t see the gay elephant in the room – even though it’s been following you around for the past 17 years.
So let’s be clear: there isn’t going to be a mass influx of rabid, anti-military degenerates lining up at recruiting offices. This is not about letting gays into the military. It never was. This is about being true to the values of every warrior who wears our country’s uniform. Upholding the sanctity of integrity and a deeply rooted sense of camaraderie are central to who we are as war fighters.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise when you consider the facts.
For all these years, we’ve been right here with you. We’re not some foreign ‘other’ seeking to turn your world upside down. You might not have noticed, but we’ve fought, suffered, killed, celebrated, wept, and worked together since day one. We’ve been fiercely loyal and as selfless as you could want, and all the while we served knowing that the price to pay for this privilege is to suffocate a fundamental part of ourselves.
Can you really square these facts with the allegation that we pose some kind of threat?
If you’re still not convinced (which is understandable – I’m certain that Generals Casey and Conway, Admiral Mullen, and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates share your skepticism), so be it. We never asked that you meet us half way; so tell me, what do you want from us?
If you don’t have an answer to that question, I’ll bet a month’s pay that you don’t really consider us part of your team. Maybe witnessing a gay pride parade or listening to a gay activist on TV led you to think that we’re not as dependable as other Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, or Airmen. My best advice: stop listening to the doomsday scenarios from fundamentalists and to the idealistic assurances from progressive groups, and start engaging us directly.
You know what we do for a living. I can assure you that we have thick skin and are as determined as anyone to see this issue resolved as efficiently as possible. It must be said that the military being perceived as so woefully ill prepared for this latest DADT development is a shame.
It would be acceptable if we were facing an unexpected, insurmountable challenge – but in this case, the greatest military in the world made a choice not to be ready for an inevitable scenario.
However, if this results in an expedited repeal process, we are prepared to accommodate it. Unlike those who ignored the idea of gays in the military in the hope that it was a myth, we have sharp insight as to how to proceed. We can help, or we can wait, or we can even shut up if that’s what’s necessary – but at some point our senior leadership is going to have to acknowledge that we exist and give us an order, or at least consider asking for our input and cooperation.
As of today, the only word we have ever received from our leaders is from Clifford Stanley, an Under Secretary of Defense, “We note for service members that altering their personal conduct in this legally uncertain environment may have adverse consequences for themselves and others should the court’s decision be reversed.”
I’ll speak for my own service in saying that the Marine Corps is not led by the courts or congress – Marines lead Marines. Many of us are nearly jumping out of our seats with enthusiasm to help see the military through a successful transition. We want to do our part, but we cannot do anything without our leaders taking the initiative.
The morning after Judge Phillips’s injunction, I watched as leaders gave administrative guidance to every level from the battalion down to the squads. Not a single word was mentioned about whether DADT was still in place or if it would be appreciated that gay service members continue to exercise discretion while the DoD figures out “what the heck just happened.”
I seriously doubt that this was unique to my unit.
If Secretary Gates is correct in his warning of “enormous consequences,” then what I witnessed constitutes a refusal to lead that should be unimaginable for unit leaders at every level.
Regardless of the legal or legislative future of DADT, sticking our collective head in the dirt is conduct unbecoming of the world’s finest fighting force.


Does Maggie Gallagher have blood on her hands?

By Cahir O'Dohert-

This week, on the day when young people nationwide were commemorating the shocking spate of suicides by young gay men, the board chair of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) Maggie Gallagher published a grandiose letter in The New York Post asking herself, rhetorically, if she had blood on her hands.

Not many were fooled by her philosophical musings. When you argue a position you intend to refute it's just a rationalization. And sure enough that's exactly what followed.

Young gay kids are inherently unstable, she suggested, citing a study out of Massachusetts that, she claimed, showed that gay teenagers "are about twice as likely to report being in a physical fight at school, three times more likely to say they were injured by a weapon and almost four times as likely to say they missed school because they felt physically unsafe, compared to other teens."

Well no kidding, Maggie. Who knew LGTB kids nationwide were being bullied and harassed and attacked and stripped of their humanity daily? Color me shocked.

It's been going on for some time, Gallagher announced, managing to sound mildly surprised.

But what was truly new and interesting about Gallagher's article was the suggestion it was in many ways their own fault. Gay kids, she offered, were victims long before anti-gay groups like hers started in on them.

"Forced sex, childhood sexual abuse, dating violence, early unwed pregnancy, substance abuse - could these be a more important factor in the increased suicide risk of LGBT high schoolers than anything people like me ever said?"

Eh, no Maggie. You're not off the hook because you and your multimillion dollar anti-gay political action committee actually foster and promote anti-gay prejudice nationwide. You fight marriage equality because you believe it legitimizes homosexuality. That's the whole point of your organization, to protect and enshrine in law the message that gay people are inferior. We can see your feet behind the curtains, Maggie.

But - still - to write an article that places the blame for gay teen suicides squarely on the teen themselves, and on the day when they were being mourned by the gay community and their allies? And then to chide them for using those young people in "a wider culture war?"

Oh Maggie. You're too much. There are many aspects to homophobia: religious, social, institutional, legal etc. Notoriously, in 2008 your organization compared gays to an oncoming storm.

Do you actually think gay teenagers can't see what you and NOM want the rest of their lives to be like, Maggie?

Perpetuating the message that gay kids don't deserve equality, that they're inherently "dysfunctional" and "sexually disabled" (your own words Maggie)  tells them they have no one who really values them and nowhere to go. Studies have shown that rejection by family members and their own peers significantly increases the risk of suicide in gay teens.

In 2000, Gallagher wrote, “homosexuality is like infertility, it is a sexual disability preventing certain individuals from participating in the normal reproductive patterns of the human species.”

Normal. Human. Disability.

Hear that dog-whistle? Using scare tactics and scare quotes to re-enforce your anti-gay message just proves how little you valued their individual, lonely fates, Maggie.

University gets a free supply of “Legalize Gay” tees.

The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s anti-bullying campaign received an unexpected boost from apparel company American Apparel this week.
The clothes maker delivered 500 T-shirts with the slogan “Legalize Gay” to the school’s campus and also offered to provide one to any student desiring one. 

According to a Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel report, the company did so after a female UW-Whitewater student who was wearing such a pro-gay T-shirt was punched in the face by an assailant who also shouted a homophobic slur at her. This incident augmented the urgency of the school’s anti-bullying rally held last week after the recent large number of anti-gay bullying-driven suicides by gay teenagers. Between 50 and 100 people gathered Friday afternoon to raise awareness of hate crimes.

The victim was a UW-Whitewater student. Campus police say she was walking down a street late last month when she was approached by two men she didn’t know. She says one called her a homophobic slur and punched her, bruising her face.

Police released profiles of the two suspects shortly after the alleged attack. A police lieutenant said Friday that no arrests have been made. University spokeswoman Mary Beth Mackin says the attack “shocked” the campus. She says that’s not what UW-Whitewater is about.

American Apparel also ran a full-page advertisement in the UW-Whitewater campus paper, remarking that its employees have also encountered harassment over the shirts.

The ad said, “”We were deeply moved and inspired to hear how quickly a student rally was organized and how strong the response to this hate crime was. American Apparel is a company that believes in freedom of expression and equal rights.”


Roseanne: Don't Ask, Don't Tell


Beaverton student teacher can return to his classroom

By Wendy Owen-

Former Beaverton student teacher Seth Stambaugh can return to Sexton Mountain Elementary.

The Beaverton School District and Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education leaders announced this afternoon that they jointly agreed to return Stambaugh to his original student teaching placement in Beaverton starting late next week, according to a press release from both schools. "We are moving forward with our common values and principles of equity, respect and inclusion," according to the press release.

Stambaugh was celebrating privately with family and friends and was not available for comment, but his attorney Lake Perriguey said Stambaugh has already accepted the offer.

"He was joyous and really ready to get back in that classroom," he said.

Stambaugh made headlines in early October after claiming the district discriminated against him for telling a student he was gay.

In September, Stambaugh told a fourth-grader who asked whether he was married that he was not. When the student asked why, Stambaugh replied it was not legal for him to get married because he would choose a man.

The student then asked, "Does that mean you like to hang out with other guys?" and Stambaugh responded yes, Perriguey said.

The parent of a student, who overheard the conversation, complained, Perriguey said, and district administrators asked Stambaugh's advisers at Lewis & Clark College to find him another school. Stambaugh is currently at a school in Portland. 

The district's decision was based on 23-year-old Stambaugh's "professional judgment" and on the age-appropriateness of the conversation with the 9-year-old student, said Maureen Wheeler, district spokeswoman.

Last week, Superintendent Jerry Colonna said there has been a lot of "hurt and pain that has come forward as a result of this by our gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual staff and students and community members and many, many others who see schools as a place of tolerance and social justice."

Colonna said the district will take steps to "repair relationships, rebuild trust, learn from the issue and listen."

The decision follows a private meeting today of Colonna and his adminstrative team with Lewis & Clark representatives as well as a letter writing campaign from Sexton Mountain teachers and parents who asked that Stambaugh be reinstated.

It may not be over yet. Perriguey said questions still remain about the process the district initially followed.

"It looks like a decision was made on a dime and it took six weeks to do the right thing," he said.


This Ally Week, You (Yes, YOU!) Can Make A Difference For LGBT Students

This week is Ally Week, an annual event encouraging allies of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students to stand up against anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools. A project of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), Ally Week is a time when students nationwide organize events that serve to identify, support and celebrate allies to LGBT students. Most students ask their peers, teachers and school staff to sign this pledge:
I believe all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression, deserve to feel safe and supported. That means I pledge to:
    • Not use anti-LGBT language and slurs;
    • Intervene, if I safely can, in situations where other students are being harassed;
    • Support efforts to end bullying and harassment.
Here at the ACLU, we’re big fans of Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” project, which serves as a message of hope for LGBT teenagers who feel hopeless. Staff from the ACLU's Washington, D.C., and New York offices created our own It Gets Better videos, which you can watch here:

Yet One More Gay Suicide As The Epidemic Continues Among Our Young

By David Mixner-

Jackson-corey-facebook Yesterday over lunch and dinner in The Glass House Tavern, I watched from my window perch to see how many people in the streets were wearing purple to express outrage at the epidemic of suicides by young people who are members or perceived to be LGBT citizens. Facebook was purple. The people in the streets surprisingly took up the message in large numbers. Many shows on television yesterday were purple. As a statement, the day was a huge success.
Unfortunately, the day was capped with the announcement of yet one more of our young killing himself. Corey Jackson, (just 19) of Oakland College in Michigan went into the woods and hung himself from a tree. He was not bullied however the young gay Oakland College student could not muster up the will to live in such a hostile world. Every day he had to hear the hate coming from candidates about being gay, our allies compromising our freedom and in the process separating us from the rest of society and of vicious hate crimes that left LGBT citizens bloodied or dead.
There isn't one of us who hasn't experienced his depression and there isn't one of us who doesn't wish that we could have somehow reached him. Slogans, special days, videos and other efforts certainly have saved lives but in the end more is needed. The end of oppression of LGBT people is what is needed. The end of our allies going to courts to slow down our freedom is what is needed. The end to hateful rhetoric that leads to endless violence against LGBT people is what is needed.
Every time a person uses angry language, allows students to chant 'faggot', ducks on the LGBT fight for civil rights or asks us to be patient, they increase the odds of another young person committing suicide. Maggie Gallagher of NOM can wash her hands at the sink all she wants but the blood of these young people have permanently stained them. There is no cleansing agent around that get those hands clean.
Our 'friends' who consul patience, chose process over freedom and empower our enemies by their inaction or silence need to understand the ramifications of their actions.
We can only honor Corey Jackson by fighting for full equality, freedom and justice. Anything less means he will have died in vain. The least we can do is honor him with this tribute and be uncompromising in our fight for freedom and full equality.

for more from David visit Live from Hell's Kitchen.


Actor Mark Ruffalo says goodbye to 'old' and 'bigoted' views of parenting

   "We live down the street from a gay couple with a young son, my son goes and plays there and has lunch there. My son is 8 years old, and not once has he come and asked why his friend has two poppas,” says Mark Ruffalo. “His family is no different to my family – they eat at the same time, send their kid to school, discipline him and love him the same way. It’s only the teaching that we give to the child that makes them see those distinctions.” Ruffalo is starring in The Kids Are All Right in theaters now.
   The film - which stars Julianne Moore and Annette Bening playing lesbian moms - was a hit at Sundance 2010. Mark Ruffalo stars - as the biological father.
“The more people get to experience gay and lesbian couples, who are not so much unlike themselves, the more accepting they become,” he said. “You can’t know somebody like that then want to take away something (like marriage) that is so precious to them.”


Why two dads are better than none! By ARR surrogate Jodi

   I was recently the proud surrogate of two wonderful intended parents who happen to be gay. For me it wasn’t a decision of whether I should carry for a gay couple or not. They are both marvelously caring and compassionate people, and I know they will be great fathers to their twins.

   I feel very strongly about equal rights, and I hate that it’s so hard for gay parents to adopt. When I decided to become a surrogate, both my husband and I had stated that we were open to carrying for a gay couple. When we were almost immediately matched with one, I was excited but also nervous. I wanted to like them, but I wanted them to like me too.

   The moment my intended parents walked into the room at Alternative Reproductive Resources, one of them cracked a joke and I knew we were going to get along. They were both very respectful of me and told me that because it was my body, they would let me make any decisions regarding my health and pregnancy. We knew right away that this was the right couple for us. The fact that they were two men instead of a traditional couple wasn’t even a factor.

   A son, a daughter and a year later, I have to say that my surrogacy was perfect. Every step was easy and I couldn’t have asked for better intended parents or friends. The hardest part about leaving the hospital after giving birth was leaving the guys. I can’t say that I will ever be a surrogate again, but thanks to these men, I would do it for them all over again.

   Jodi is The Surrogacy Spotlight’s featured surrogate of the month! Visit to ask her questions or find out more about her journey.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Votes for Sale

By Robyn

It often gets annoying to hang around the InterWeb, for one reason or another. I have to say the past week has been one of those times.

I'm not referring to anything that the Obama administration has or hasn't done, though for sure plenty could be and has been said. Fierce advocacy often appears what any objective person might call milquetoasty. Of course, he did say he'd be a fierce advocate of gays and lesbians, not transfolk, and recently seems to have forgotten we exist.

Then, Obama was asked whether being gay or trans was a choice. Here is his incredibly weak response which completely ignores trans people.
I am not obviously — I don’t profess to be an expert. This is a layperson’s opinion. But I don’t think it’s a choice. I think people are born with a certain makeup, and we’re all children of God. We don’t make determinations about who we love. And that’s why I think that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is wrong.
Mmmm. Toasty.

Florida Attorney General Won’t Challenge Ruling Striking Down Gay Adoption Prohibition

McCollum’s Decision Brings Overdue End To Notorious Law After 33 Year

MIAMI – Florida's 33-year-old policy barring gay people from adopting ended today as the state Attorney General Bill McCollum opted not to appeal last month's ruling striking down the ban. The governor and the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) had already announced that they would not appeal the decision. Today was the final day that the attorney general could have independently acted to appeal the ruling.
   The appellate court ruling arose in an American Civil Liberties Union legal challenge to the ban on behalf of Martin Gill, who wanted to adopt two foster children he and his partner have been raising for almost six years.
   “This law, by baselessly branding gay people unfit parents, was one of the most notorious anti-gay laws in the country, and we are delighted that it has been ended once and for all,” said Leslie Cooper, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU LGBT Project, who argued the case before Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal. “This victory means that the thousands of children in Florida who are waiting to be adopted will no longer be needlessly deprived of willing and able parents who can give them the love and support of a family.”
   In November 2008, Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Cindy Lederman held that the statute barring adoption by gay people is unconstitutional and granted Martin Gill’s petition to adopt the now six- and ten-year-old brothers after a four-day trial featuring experts who established that research confirms that gay and straight people make equally good parents. Last month, the Third District Court of Appeal agreed, recognizing that the scientific evidence shows that “there are no differences in the parenting of homosexuals or the adjustment of their children. . . [and] the issue is so far beyond dispute that it would be irrational to hold otherwise; the best interests of children are not preserved by prohibiting homosexual adoption.”
"We are relieved that this process has finally come to an end, and that we can focus on being a family,” said Gill. “Our boys have overcome difficult beginnings to become happy, healthy kids. All children deserve a chance at finding a stable, loving and permanent home. Over the 33 years of the ban, this archaic law has harmed countless foster children by denying them a forever family.”
   “The children in Florida’s foster care system waiting to be adopted deserved better than this cruel policy,” said Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida. “This ban was nothing more than prejudice propped up by junk science. We are thankful that, as a result of this victory, the Gill family can move on with their lives and children trapped in our state’s foster care system will have the opportunity for a better life in the permanent homes they deserve.”
   For more information on the case, including a video of Martin Gill explaining how this law has harmed his family, visit: or
   Martin Gill is represented by senior staff attorney Leslie Cooper and Director James Esseks of the ACLU LGBT Project, and Legal Director Randall Marshall and staff attorney Shelbi Day of the ACLU of Florida. The children are represented by Hilarie Bass, Elliot Scherker, Elaine Walter, Brigid Cech Samole and Ricardo Gonzalez of Greenberg Traurig, and Charles Auslander, an attorney and former District Administrator for DCF.


NOM's Maggie Gallagher is at it again.

Freedom to Marry header

NOM's Maggie Gallagher is at it again.

In a New York Post column earlier this week, Maggie used made-up facts to attack LGBT youth and LGBT activists, including Freedom to Marry's Evan Wolfson, to justify NOM's relentless campaign against LGBT people and their families.

Even as she and other anti-gay activists continue to use damaging rhetoric that promotes fear and bullying against LGBT youth, Maggie says, "These kids need help, real help. They should not become a mere rhetorical strategy, a plaything in our adult battles."

Join Freedom to Marry and Evan Wolfson in telling Maggie she can't have it both ways.

Sign our open letter to Maggie Gallagher calling on her to end her attacks against LGBT people and their families:

For years, Maggie has been a leading figure in the anti-gay movement. Along with activists like Brian Brown, president of NOM, and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, she has helped create a toxic climate of prejudice that sends the message to youth that being gay is a "dysfunction" that one should work to "overcome."

In light of recent anti-gay bullying and a series of tragic suicides, Maggie's continued use of anti-gay rhetoric is especially troubling.

Join us in telling Maggie Gallagher to get out of the discrimination business and to stand with those of us who support equal protection and respect, for all.

Thanks for all you do,

Michael Crawford
New Media Director, Freedom to Marry


Lawsuit Alleges Extensive Police Cover-Up in Atlanta Gay Bar Raid

The Atlanta Eagle
The Atlanta Eagle
By Kilian Melloy-

   Atlanta police defied a court order and destroyed evidence pertaining to a raid on a gay bar, a suit filed in federal court alleges.

   The 2009 police raid on the Atlanta Eagle reportedly involved 48 officers. The raid resulted in several arrests, but a judge acquitted those who were accused earlier this year. Even at the time of the acquittal, there were complaints that the Atlanta police were not cooperating with the Atlanta Citizen Review Board.

The ruling, which was issued last March, followed months of stonewalling by police. The Board had begun to investigate the raid, in which 62 patrons were reportedly detained and eight employees placed under arrest. When the police proved uncooperative, the board threatened to issue subpoenas, reported an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article from Feb. 18.

"We have been dealing with this issue of officers’ refusal to cooperate for a long time," Seth Kirschenbaum, a lawyer who serves as the board’s vice chairman, told the newspaper.

"The union’s stance is we’re still going to protect officers’ due process rights no matter what the members of the citizen review board have to say about that," said the Atlanta Police Union’s Lt. Scott Kreher at the time. "We’re going to have them follow the [standard operating procedures] of the department, which requires them to go down but doesn’t require them to testify." Kreher went on to point out that not only was an internal investigation ongoing, but a civil suit had also been brought against the department.

The police raid ostensibly took place because undercover police saw sex acts taking place in public at the bar. Authorities also said that nude dancing had been taking place without the bar having the proper licenses for adult entertainment. Also, authorities said that drug violations had been seen at the bar.

But bar owner Richard Ramey, who was not charged, took issue with how the raid reportedly went down, with officers allegedly forcing patrons to lie face-down on the floor, handcuffing them, and subjecting them to searches. Some patrons claimed that the officers taunted them with anti-gay epithets. "Our problem is with the way our customers were treated," Ramey told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a Sept. 12, 2009 article, published just two days after the raid.

"I’m thinking, this is Stonewall. It’s like I stepped into the wrong decade," bar patron Nick Koperski told the paper at that time.

"Before I knew it I was being handcuffed," said bartender Chris Lopez. "[The police] were going from patron to patron, having everyone turn out their pockets."

But the case came to naught in court, when Municipal Judge Crystal Gaines found three defendants not guilty of license violations. Charges against the other five were then dropped. "We always thought from the beginning that we were charged for no reason," Ramey said. "They had no right to be there." A federal suit against the Atlanta Police Department and the city followed.

Now, further accusations have been leveled at the police, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Oct. 21. Lawyers for the Atlanta Eagle and some of the individuals who were detained claim that evidence such as emails and photographs have vanished, and information on cell phones erased after U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten instructed that it be made available to the plaintiffs.

"Throughout this litigation the defendants and their counsel have acted as if the rules, the law and even the orders of this court simply do not apply to them," Daniel Grossman, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, wrote. "Rather than produce evidence pursuant to this court’s order, they destroyed it. These violations involved all 35 defendants and at least eight individual attorneys. The judicial process cannot function when parties and their counsel so flagrantly, pervasively and deliberately ignore their obligations."

According to the suit’s claims, computer records were destroyed following the judge’s orders that evidence be turned over. Moreover, when the cell phones of 35 police officers were requested for evidence that they might have contained, 22 officers refused to surrender their phones as requested, giving them to a department technician instead. Data from those cell phones was erased by the technician, according to documents.

"There’s no way that there’s no data relevant to this case on all those electronic devices," said Judge Batten during a conference call on Aug. 24, the article reported. "That’s just not the way the world works today."

"We take these allegations seriously, and will investigate them thoroughly and respond at the appropriate time," stated the city attorney, Cathy Hampton. "However, we cannot comment in detail because these allegations were made as part of ongoing litigation."


It Gets Better - Turtle Creek Chorale

On October 18, 2010, members of Dallas' Turtle Creek Chorale joined singers from over 30 area religious institutions and students from Southern Methodist University in a performance titled, A Night For Peace.

WIth just three rehearsals to prepare, the 300+ "Partners In Harmony" massed chorus offered a full-length concert, which concluded with Bach's DONA NOBIS PACEM (Grant Us Peace) from his Mass in B Minor.

All stories are real. Featured speakers are current members of the Turtle Creek Chorale.

Conducted by Dr. Jonathan Palant
Filmed and Edited by Israel Luna

Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas, Texas

For more information visit:


Gay diplomat presses LGBT issues at int’l conference

By Chris Johnson-

Michael Guest, former U.S. ambassador to Romania,
headed a delegation during the human rights portion
of an annual conference for the Organization for Security
& Cooperation in Europe.
A gay diplomat led a U.S. delegation at an international conference earlier this month that touched on the importance of LGBT rights as a human rights issue.
Michael Guest, former U.S. ambassador to Romania, headed a delegation of about 25 U.S. diplomats during the human rights portion of an annual review conference for the Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe. The review conference took place between Sept. 30 and Oct. 8 in Warsaw, Poland.
The Warsaw Review Conference was a primer engagement for trans-Atlantic countries to discuss human rights principles — including hate crimes against LGBT people and the freedom to association to have Pride celebrations across the globe — in anticipation of a later OSCE summit that this year is set to take place in December in Astana, Kazakhstan.
In an interview with the Washington Blade, Guest said that his sexual orientation made his designation as head of the delegation representational of the Obama administration’s stated principle that international LGBT rights are human rights.
“I also think that it made an impact with other delegations,” Guest added. “It was clearly a prominent feature of my biography, so there were a number of delegation members that come and it’s representative in their eyes as a sense of progress that an openly gay man would be appointed.”
Still, Guest said he thinks his 26-year service as a diplomat was the primary reason he was selected for the position and noted that during much of his career he focused on OSCE policy.
“I dealt with it at the time when all these changes were happening in Europe in 1989, 1990 and 1991 and when most of the commitments on fundamental freedoms and human rights were signed by the newly independent countries of the former Soviet Union and the new democracies of Central and Eastern Europe,” he said.
Guest attained notoriety in 2007 when he retired from the State Department in protest because it didn’t offer certain benefits — such as security training and free medical care — to the same-sex partners of Foreign Service officers. The situation has since been rectified by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Mark Bromley, chair of the Council for Global Equality, which took part in the review conference as an non-governmental organization, said the selection of an out gay man to lead the U.S. delegation was significant because previous administrations have been reluctant to incorporate LGBT issues in foreign policy.
“The United States in the past has been reluctant to address LGBT concerns within this forum,” Bromley said. “I think the fact that they selected Michael Guest as someone who is openly gay and works with organizations that promote issues on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity was an important statement.”


Last night in Washington, Roi Whaley left a room of 100 people riveted and silent.
Roi, who turned to Immigration Equality’s legal team after being separated from his Filipino partner Aurelio, made a passionate plea for all of us to stand up and end the discrimination LGBT families face under our current immigration system.
“I made a promise to Aurelio that I would always be there for him,” said Roi, who is now battling Stage III cancer while fighting to bring his partner home. “I just want to bring him home so I can die with him in my arms.”
Yesterday, Immigration Equality’s policy team spent the day on Capitol Hill with Roi, where he shared his story with Republican and Democratic lawmakers, and asked that they lend their support to the Uniting American Families Act. Our legal team is also working, non-stop, to find a way to bring Roi and Aurelio back together — and back home — again.
They’ve pledged to match — dollar for dollar — every contribution we receive, up to $22,000 – from now until the end of the month.  Last night, our generous supporters in Washington brought us within striking distance of our goal. Now, you can help us cross the finish line.
It’s impossible to hear Roi’s story and not be moved, angry and determined. The United States government has ripped an American citizen’s family apart, and that should leave us all outraged. We cannot allow our government to determine who we can, and cannot, share our lives, our homes or our love with. We cannot allow one more family to face the same fate as Roi and Aurelio.
Roi was joined last night, in Washington, by Sister Jeannine Gramick, a Roman Catholic nun who has been a passionate advocate for our families. Sister Jeannine hugged Roi, thanked him for telling his story, and reminded all LGBT binational families that they do not stand alone.
This afternoon, Roi will fly back to his home along the Gulf Coast ... but, despite the life they have built together, Aurelio will not be home to welcome Roi when he gets there.
That’s unconscionable. That’s why we fight. That’s why we need your help, too.
Please, log on today and make a gift to the Immigration Equality Action Fund.
Thank you,
Rachel B. Tiven
Executive Director

P.S.: Remember that, from now until October 31st, your gift will be matched — dollar for dollar — by three generous binational families who have pledged $22,000 in support of our work to help families like Roi’s. We have just days to go before our deadline, and your gift can help us reach our goal. Your gift will be doubled, and your contribution will be put to immediate work on behalf of our families who are facing separation, or are already living in exile.


Gay Reichs

some humor from Daily Show on a slow friday morning...

Scott Lively reveals to Jason Jones that Adolf Hitler was a homosexual and that Nazis used to meet in gay bars.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Gay Reichs

Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity


Won’t Someone Think of the Children? :: MassResistance ’Exposes’ Gay Day at Six Flags

Gays and their kids having family fun--the height of depravity?
Gays and their kids having family fun
--the height of depravity.
A day of family fun at Six Flags New England amusement park has been held up by an anti-gay Massachusetts organization as evidence that gays have an unsavory "obsession" with children.

The 2010 edition of the annual event took place on Sept. 19. The event was billed as "a family friendly event for the GLBT community as well as family, friends, and supporters." Text at the event’s website promised, "Out In The Park is a day of Thrills, Music, Entertainment, and Friends!"

The Six Flags "Gay Day" was targeted by fringe-right group MassResistance days in advance. The group posted an item at the MassResistance website on Sept. 17 that declared, "there’s something about children’s activities, such as amusement parks (and public schools, parades, etc.) that attracts the homosexual movement in an obsessive and disturbing way."

The group’s own obsession with gay individuals and their families has been a characteristic of MassResistance since its founding in the wake of marriage equality, which Massachusetts made legal six years ago. In that time, six other states have followed suit, though ballot initiatives in two of those states--Maine and California--have rescinded marriage rights for gay and lesbian families, many of whom have children.

MassResistance has been criticized for its employees taking photos of schoolchildren, particularly at GLBT youth events. In 2008, a MassResistance employee was placed under arrest for taking pictures of children, following complaints by parents. That same year, MassResistance was added to the list of "Active U.S. Hate Groups" maintained by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group has also actively opposed legislation aimed at countering bullying in schools.

The fact that children were present at the "Out in the Park" event--"Gay Days" is a separate annual event that takes place at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, and at Disney World in Orlando, Florida--drove MassResistance to an even higher level of hysteria. Despite the fact that the event was touted as being for "friends, family and supporters," and that "All [were] welcome to attend," MassResistance insinuated in an Oct. 17 follow-up posting that the event was not suitable for children. The anti-gay group played up the very fact that gay parents brought their children along, suggesting that unsavory motives were at work and posting a snippet from a Bay Windows column that remarked on "the presence of so many children who seemed so happy to be surrounded by so many LGBT adults who not only seemed quite adept at having fun themselves in large numbers (without a police officer or drunken fistfight in sight), but who also seemed so ready to shower on kids the kind of attention that makes kids feel special in ways that kids need to feel as much as possible."

The column--"Reality Check," written by Bay Windows contributing editor Jeff Epperly--contrasted the safe, happy day of family fun shared at Six Flags by gays and their children to the predations of the Catholic Church’s clerics, noting fresh revelations in the ongoing global scandal and positing that, "It is they--the fundamentalist ministers, youth pastors, and priests--who need to be kept away from the children. Can there really be any doubt about this any longer?"

The Bay Windows column celebrated the family-friendly event’s wholesome atmosphere. "Everywhere you looked there was some LGBT adult interacting with children in the most harmless and loving ways you can imagine: taking them on rides, buying them treats, taking a real and completely innocent interest in them and whether they were having enough fun," Epperly wrote.

But the fact that GLBT and supportive straight adults had included their children in the amusement park’s day for the GLBT community was used as evidence of the dark "obsession" of which MassResistance had accused the gay community from the outset. The anti-gay group claimed that activities provided for GLBT youths were part of a "fanatical push to get into the public schools" by gay adults.

Gays, Mormons and Boy Scouts' discrimination

By LZ Granderson-

LZ Granderson is a senior writer and
columnist for ESPN The Magazine and
    For an organization that describes itself on its website as being "truly a melting pot," with membership that comes "from all walks of life," the Boy Scouts of America sure is picky.
This week alone, the nonprofit organization has been criticized for removing a father from leadership in Texas because he is gay and rejecting a couple's application for leadership in North Carolina because they are Mormons.
   I couldn't help but chuckle after reading the two headlines. The Mormon church has spent millions to support measures that discriminate against gay people in the name of God -- and here is a Mormon couple being booted out of a thinly veiled Christian organization accusing them of having a different god. I would call it karma, but that would only introduce a third god and I think the conversation is confusing enough.
   Besides, it's not as if discrimination in this country is all religion-based.
   Despite the best efforts of Martha Burke, Augusta National golf club -- home of the Masters -- still has not allowed a single woman to join its club. The North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance has a cap on the number of heterosexuals allowed to play on a softball team. When an all-white sorority won a national step show competition earlier this year -- step shows' roots are in historically black fraternities and sororities -- some black people made such a fuss, the sponsors opted to split the first-place title with an all black group under the guise of a scoring discrepancy.
   We shall overcome ... unless there's a trophy. Then all bets are off, I guess.
   As a gay father of a teenage boy, my heart does indeed go out to John Langbert, the man who was removed from leadership for no other reason than being gay.
   But I encourage everyone -- regardless of their opinion on the recent actions by the Boys Scouts -- to look beyond the topics of sexual orientation or religion and instead consider the words of Trappist monk Thomas Merton: "Unless we live what we know, we do not even know it." Within the meaning of that sentence lies a better gauge as to how much we value diversity, tolerance and this melting pot that is America.
   As upsetting as the Scouts' discrimination may be, it is legal. Ten years ago, the Supreme Court, in its 5-4 decision in Boy Scouts of America v James Dale, ruled that admission into private clubs is protected under the umbrella of free expression and free association stated in the First Amendment. Theoretically, such a ruling also allows Augusta to keep women out and NAGAA to limit the number of straight softball players.
   But if a group truly believes in the melting pot -- and not just saying so on its website -- then the Supreme Court's ruling in the Dale case also reiterates a private club's right to not discriminate based upon sexual orientation, religion, gender, race, etc.
   More importantly, it also reiterates our rights as individual Americans to live a life of acceptance and tolerance. Just as Merton suggested, if a person knows discrimination is wrong, then it is up to that person to live in that truth. Obviously, discrimination exists in public policies in forums we cannot avoid in everyday life.
   But if someone willingly joins a private club that discriminates against a particular segment of the population, then each time that person pays dues or attends a meeting, he or she is indirectly expressing agreement with the discriminatory policy. So, for example, a lot of gay softball players seem to have no problem with discriminating against people for no other reason than their sexual orientation.
   Or in my earlier example, a lot of black people seem to believe stepping contests should be judged by the color of the contestants' skin and not their talent.
   The Boy Scouts of America has every right to let whomever it wants into its private club. My question is: Do all of the parents and guardians of the 4 million youths who are Scouts believe it's OK to kick people out because they don't worship in the same way they do? And if so, how does that opinion coexist with the statement on the website that Scouts come from "all types of family units, faiths and racial and ethnic groups"?
   Maybe the group should consider a name change, from Boy Scouts of America to Boy Scouts in America.
   To be "in" America means it -- or any other private group -- has the right to discriminate. But those of us who are truly "of" America understand that there is no America if we do.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.


GLBT History Month 2010 - Eleanor Roosevelt

Visit for more about Eleanor Roosevelt. She transformed the role of First Lady. She served as a diplomat and was a tireless champion of international human rights.


Please give me six minutes.

I wouldn't call you out on this if I didn't think I had a shot at motivating you to address, and dare I say it, change, these grievances.

We were all grateful for your signing of the Matthew Shepard Act. However, Judy Shepard is the true champion of that bill, and you upped the severity of the crime to sate a grieving mother and a long-terrified nation. It was an easy move and it made you look good. For the sake of a good thing, we were all willing to call it even, and some of us even said we were glad we'd elected you, while we know that any Democrat would have signed this gift-wrapped bill.

Now, we face DOMA, DADT, and opposition to the compulsory ENDA, and you are nowhere to be found, blaming everything on the idea that Congress has more power than you do. I dare say that it's a perversion of Checks and Balances to suggest that the Presidency of the United States of America is without vehicles extraordinary influence over our government system. By not acting, by not at least speaking, or engaging Vice President Biden to speak, you do harm to all the greatest Presidents, and all the greatest leaders of our National history. I'm sad to say that this is how I feel, especially because even if I'm wrong, I'm not too far from correct.

You have the power to issue an executive order to suspend DADT for the amount of time that we are at war. Contrary to your promise, you have not ended the war.

You are the President, but you are still a citizen with a First Amendment right. You have the right to speak up, and the responsibility of proving your dignity as a person, which you sold to us in order to get elected. At the very least, you owe us an appeal in an open letter to Congress and the Justice Department on the issues under which a minority population and their supporters suffer on a daily basis. You have a privileged vehicle for exercising that freedom of speech because you hold the highest office, and by neglecting to use that freedom you do not adequately put Congress to the test of whether or not they would overrule your order. I don't know what your rationale for inaction is (because you don't tell us), but your complacency obstructs an Executive process long overdue. If you feel somehow that the Presidency limits your Freedom of Speech, please show me in the Constitution where that's true. You promised us, Mr. President. You asked for the office, we gave it to you, and you are overdue to use the fullest extent of that office.

You were not there for the National Equality March. You were not there for the Prop 8 protests. You stood back while the Justice Department issued a stay on DADT. You are allowed to comment, to communicate, regardless of what you sign. The Presidency is more than your pen.

You had plenty of words for us when it was time to make promises so we'd elect you. You owe us more than you have given us. And if you don't make good on your word, you owe us an explanation. Or, apologize and resign. Enough is enough.

"Yes, we can", of course we can. But you are our leader, and if you don't start leading, per your responsibility, you do not deserve the same title and privileges that Lincoln did, even though we all understand, as he said, that "The Presidency, even to the most experienced politicians, is no bed of roses".

Lastly, your participation in the "It Gets Better" project is a slap in the face. You have not proven this. For the minority LGBT community, you have not done this. You have not led us through a single hardship and I will not allow you to pretend, after sitting on it for weeks until you could get around to a three-minute video, that you really feel any responsibility, let alone compassion, for what gay teens do, even if they kill themselves. You didn't care when other people killed them, you just signed the paper. And you know it.

Please, find your voice, and restore the Presidency as an equal power by fully exercising your right to speak, to advocate, to lead. We looked after you to get you elected. You gave us hope and we gave you our gratitude, and then you dropped us. We have been more vocal than ever before, and you have not responded once to change something that wasn't already conveniently packaged. In the next election, when you give us promises, so will other politicians. And by your inaction, we will be all too glad to give /them/ our gratitude.

I live a half-hour away from you. I will be glad to discuss these matters anytime. I've patiently waited for eleven months. Would you spare an hour for me? You pick the time and the place, and I'll be there with tea for us to drink, a notepad to write down our ideas, and my listening ears.

Be well,

for more from Sama visit YouTube.


Olson Questions DOJ's Defense of DADT

By Michelle Garcia-

TED OLSON X390 (GETTY IMAGES) | ADVOCATE.COM   One of the lead attorneys fighting California's Proposition 8, former U.S. solicitor general Ted Olson, says the federal government should not defend "don't ask, don't tell" in court.

   "It happens every once in a while at the federal level when the solicitor general, on behalf of the U.S., will confess error or decline to defend a law," said Olson, who served as solicitor general under George W. Bush, according to ABC News. "I don't know what is going through the [Obama] administration's thought process on 'don't ask, don't tell.' It would be appropriate for them to say 'the law has been deemed unconstitutional, we are not going to seek further review of that.'"

   While President Barack Obama has stated his desire to repeal the law that bars gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, the Department of Justice has vehemently fought the lawsuit by the Log Cabin Republicans challenging the policy.

   In the latest for this trial, the U.S. court of appeals for the ninth circuit has blocked district court judge Virginia Phillips's injunction to stop enforcement of "don't ask, don't tell." In August, Phillips ruled the policy unconstitutional.

   A three-judge panel ordered a stay requested by the Justice Department "temporarily in order to provide this court with an opportunity to consider fully the issues presented" in the federal lawsuit against DADT, waged by Log Cabin since 2004.


Push for same-sex marriage conscience vote

   Prime Minister Julia Gillard is facing a new push for a conscience vote on same-sex marriage, with community groups spurred on by a poll that shows 78 per cent support for the move.
   The Galaxy poll for two gay rights groups also found rising support for marriage equality, with 62 per cent of Australians backing reform, up from 60 per cent last year.
The release of the polls on Friday marks the launch of a new community campaign for a conscience vote by Australian Marriage Equality and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).
   The Australian Greens introduced a bill to amend the Marriage Act to recognise same-sex couples on day one of the new parliament.
Ms Gillard has ruled out giving her MPs a conscience vote on the issue, and said it remains "a big if" as to whether the Greens bill would ever reach the House of Representatives.
PFLAG spokeswoman Shelley Argent said it was about time that her gay son, who used to work as a police officer, had the same right to marry as the criminals he locked up.
"That's appalling, I think that the government should be ashamed," she told reporters in Canberra.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said it was time for both Ms Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to let MPs speak freely on the issue.
   "This should not be a political issue," she said.
   "This should be about equity ... and ensuring that people have equal access to celebrate and express their love."
   Independent MP Andrew Wilkie was also behind the move.
Mr Wilkie this week spoke out against the war in Afghanistan in a parliamentary debate where MPs adhered to bipartisan support for the war.
   He said it was a "breakdown in democracy" when MPs couldn't represent the true values of their constituents.
   "It's virtually unexplainable how the prime minister can be so prepared, so consistently, to be out of step with the will of the people," he said.
   Mr Wilkie said he would not withdraw his support of the government over the issue, but would consider supporting a coalition proposal for marriage equality.
   Galaxy polled 1050 people aged 18 and older throughout Australia.


Pink Closet Burned During South African LGBTQ Demonstration

By Allison Hope-

   South Africa hosts a bevy of contradictions and complexities around LGBTQ issues. It was the first country in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, and stands as the only republic to extend the same rights and benefits, including adoption and military service, to LGBTQ people as to all other citizens in the country. South Africa was also one of the first countries to recognize same-sex marriage.
   That said, the country still has a deep, homophobic undercurrent that surfaces when specific events or circumstances come up that “threaten” the heterosexual order of things. The most recent example of this took place just last week, when students at the University of Cape Town held a public demonstration on campus at Jameson Plaza. The demonstration by the University of Cape Town’s LGBTI student organization, RainbowUCT, included a creative prop – a pink closet – that represented a visual accompaniment to their call for action to come out during “Pink Week,” “an annual campaign intended to promote gay rights and highlight homoprejudice across the country.”
   The closet and the group were doing smashingly until one extremely violent act of hate occurred; someone set the pink closet on fire.
   "Burning down the closet is a shocking hate crime and has cut off the discourse around the issues completely,” the head of Rainbow UCT, Dylan van Vuuren, said to the Mail & Guardian.
   The pink closet, what remained of it, was purposely left standing for all to see, “to serve as a memorial of sorts to those who have suffered injustices and lost their lives at the hands of homophobia and homoprejudice,” Vuuren said.
   Perhaps more disturbing than the act of hate that took place on the campus itself was the response to the story on the Mail & Guardian’s website. Keep in mind that the publication is an award-winning, internationally recognized and read news source, and the first Internet news publication in Africa. The site gets more than 500,000 readers monthly that tend to skew young (18-39) and well-educated.
Yet many of the comments that accompanied the article are frighteningly negative toward LGBTQ people, and filled with venom. “Your average person on the continent knows that it is better to have sex with sheep than your own kind,” one reader writes. “I think that most Africans are secretly gay actually, and that is why they think that it must be some sort of contagious disease and hate them so much. Africa is the ultimate destination for homophobics.”
   While there are pro-LGBTQ readers that come to the defense of the article and the protest, it is poignant to see that despite embedded protections for LGBTQ people, anti-gay voices are still loud.