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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Michigan Groups Prepare to Counter the Westboro Baptist Church

By Brandon Miller -

Welcome to this week's edition of crazy church.
I shouldn't call a church crazy, I know, but the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) defies logic on so many levels. Take this recent website posting on the Church's page:
“WBC to picket the worthless brats who attend East Lansing High School, as well as their teachers and parents who have taught them from the cradle that God is a liar. You reprobates will hear some truth for the first time in your lives, to wit: God does NOT love everyone and it IS NOT okay to be gay or to fornicate with anyone or thing you please. Instead, you are to flee youthful lusts that war against your soul and seek to live sober, righteous and godly while on this earth."
Yes, the WBC is set to once again protest a site for being pro-gay. Not only will the group target the high school crowd in East Lansing, Michigan, but they also plan on targeting the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, and Hillel at Wayne State University, both also located in Michigan. The group has twice failed to appear at planned protests in the state, but that hasn't stopped activists from scrambling to formulate a response to their possible arrival.
“These folks have the most disgusting message in America, and that is saying a lot since there is a lot of competition for the label of most disgusting message in America,” says David Holtz, executive director of Progress Michigan. “Except for the brief time they are here, most people will ignore them. Most families have more important things to worry about like jobs.”
School officials are also setting up restrictions for the group's presence on the high school campus. Though the group's free speech rights are protected under the First Amendment, school officials have determined that they are entitled to control the time, manner and delivery of information. Thus, the police will be present, the Westboro crew will not be able to use certain language that may induce volatile behavior, and they will not be permitted on school property.
“This organization feeds on publicity and I don’t want to give them the satisfaction of having a megaphone to spread their message of intolerance and hate,” says Nathan Triplett, an East Lansing City council member. “We should use this as an opportunity to mobilize the community and to recognize that while East Lansing has taken action to recognize the equality of LGBT families our state and nation are woefully behind on this important issue.”
But more than that, community groups on the ground are getting ready to offer a counter message to the WBC's fire and brimstone. Speaking to the Michigan Messenger, Nick Pfost, chair of the Michigan State University Alliance of Queer and Ally Students, said students from campus will be out in full force to show that bigotry is not a Michigan value.
"As a result of the repeated demonstrated practices of the Westboro Baptist Church picketers throughout the nation, we categorically oppose their presence at East Lansing High School,” Pfost said. "We intend to network with other students and student organizations to form a peaceful counter-presence, to ensure the safety and security of students and parents, and to demonstrate that bigotry is not a Spartan or Trojan value.”
Sounds like a powerful message to send, and one that will reverberate thousands of times more than the crazy that the WBC is selling.


Episcopal bishop observes new LGBT openness in the church

Utah’s presiding bishop Rev. Scott Hayashi said that the number of Episcopalians leaving the church because of its open policy on same-sex unions and gay clergy is decreasing, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori agreed, telling the Tribune she also noticed fewer departures since last year. She believes the change has occurred for the same reason she thinks the church will continue to grow:  because the church is working on social justice and diversity issues and is focused on attracting people who are in transitional stages of their lives.

“They find us appealing because we invite people to ask questions. We don’t just provide answers,” Rev. Schori told the Tribune.
The church lost handfuls of members and leaders in 2003 when Gene Robinson became the first openly gay Episcopalian bishop, presiding over New Hampshire.
Rev. Robinson has recently decided to resign from his position because of the overwhelming stresses and pressures that come along with being known as  “the first and only openly gay bishop.” One church member told the Boston Globe that his service was “a gift of hope for people who have felt excluded from the church,” according to The Underground.

Church of Finland votes to welcome DPs after Finns leave in protest of anti-gay rhetoric

By Timothy Kincaid -

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland is the state church of that nation and enjoys strong emotional connection to the people. But while about 80% of Finns are members of the church, the country is predominantly secular and church membership is mostly ritualistic rather than a reflection of attendance or devotion. Christmas service is popular and well attended; a Sunday in July, not so much.
So in some ways the ELCF has to walk a careful path, more spiritual adviser to the nation than spiritual voice of the people. And the church’s relationship with the people can be strained when the values of the population differ from long-held religious assumptions.
One area of difficulty is over issues of homosexuality. While Finnish society is generally accepting of gay people, some within the church lag behind. Unlike their sister Church of Sweden, which has celebrate same-sex weddings for the past year, ELCF has taken the position of nominally supporting gay persons but holding that same-sex acts were sinful.
This discrepancy has just come into focus. For a long time the church’s teaching has had a low profile. As is the case with many national churches, the ELCF seeks to allow for a wide diversity of belief. Many bishops and others within the church hierarchy were supportive of gay people and while there was a conflict, the ELCF was not seen as institutionally anti-gay.
That all changed in October. On Tuesday, the 12th, a televised panel discussion addressed the legalization of same-sex marriage (Finland has recognized Domestic Partnerships since 2002 and is discussing whether to convert to full marriage equality) among other gay-related issues. Among the panelists were a religious politician, Christian Democratic Party chairwoman Päivä Räsänen, and the conservative Bishop of Tampere, Matti Repo. Räsänen and Repo stated their opposition to marriage equality by appealing to the authority and the positions of the church.
The response was immediate.
The church allows for on-line resignation of membership, and the cancellations began while the program was still airing. By Friday 7,400 had rejected the church and the number grew to 18,000 by that Sunday. Over the next two weeks more and more Finns expressed their discontent with the church’s position on gay people and as many as 41,000 Finns resigned in protest, a huge number in a country with a population of about 5.4 million.
This caused a national discussion and shook up the church. But rather than take a position of moral indignation, the head of the ELCF, Archbishop Kari Mäkinen welcomed the shake-up. He found the resignations to be a reasonable response to the church’s positions and called on his church to make bold change. (
”I expect the delegates of the Synod to make an unambiguous decision that will support and encourage homosexual people and same-sex couples who have registered their civil union”, said Mäkinen.
The Archbishop warned the delegates not to focus only on policies or conceptual nuances. Such behaviour would only give a message that the church is remaining silent.
Lay members also responded. Those seeking to represent their parish to the national body were overwhelmingly in agreement (ice news)
A candidate test was carried out this week on the Church homepage in order to vet applicants for the upcoming elections. The survey, which enables voters to choose a suitable runner for their parish, jammed after opening on Monday due to unexpected demand.
In the online examination, 72 percent of respondents said they were in support of the Church holding prayer vigils for same sex couples. A further 48 percent said they were also in favour of blessing gay couples and gay marriage.
And today the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland announced a change in its response to gay parishioners. By an overwhelming vote of the ministers and bishops, the church welcomed and offered recognition to same-sex couples. (AFP)
After years of debate, Finland’s state church took a step towards accepting gay relationships with an announcement Friday it would create a “prayer moment” for registered partnerships.
“The proposal offers a positive opportunity to minister to church members who are sexual minorities,” the General Synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Church’s highest administrative body, said in a statement.
This prayer (which will be carefully drafted) is not the same as a blessing of the union, per se, nor will it be a sacrament of the church. But it is the church’s sanction of same-sex relationships and a step in the direction of full inclusion.
And, in context of the national discussion over marriage equality, it is a statement that shifts the equation.


Mormons Revise Antigay Guidelines

Mormon Temple Salt Lake City x390 (bjorn graabek WIKI) |

In a new edition of its leadership guidelines, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has removed previous language calling for gays to repent of their "homosexual thoughts or feelings."

But LGBT Mormons must remain celibate in order to participate in temple rituals and receive church assignments known as "callings," the Salt Lake Tribune reports.
The new edition of the Church Handbook of Instructions eliminates an assertion that gay relationships "distort loving relationships."

Such revisions "will bless people by making it easier for them to come forward," said David Pruden, president of Evergreen, a Salt Lake City-based ex-gay organization.

Pruden is also spokesman for the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality, of which Dr. George Rekers was a board member until May, when the Miami New Times reported that the gay reparative therapy proponent had traveled to Europe with a young male escort.

Read the full story on the guideline revisions here


The World Bank's Ringing Endorsement of Ex-Gay Therapy

By Michael A. Jones -

Does the World Bank think that your sexual orientation can be cured? Well, maybe not officially, but that's not stopping the World Bank from funneling money to an organization that not only tries to convert people from homosexuality to heterosexuality, but also has ties to Uganda's "Kill the Gays" bill. Perhaps the World Bank is adjusting their mission statement: "Working for a World Free of Poverty ... and Free of Gay People."
As Metro Weekly's Chris Geidner writes, the World Bank has allowed a controversial ex-gay group -- Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX) -- to join the ranks of its Community Outreach Program, a workplace-giving campaign that allows employees of the World Bank to give money to an organization, and have that money matched by a contribution from the World Bank. Depending on how many employees decide to give money to PFOX, the World Bank will give anywhere from 50 percent to 100 percent in a matching donation.
Which means that in the months ahead, the World Bank will be giving money directly to an organization that believes homosexuality can be cured. On top of that, as Truth Wins Out notes, a former PFOX board member, Richard Cohen (who still serves as a therapy guru to the organization), was intimately involved in efforts to create legislation in Uganda that would punish homosexuality with the death penalty or life imprisonment.
And it gets even shadier. The director of PFOX's Speakers Bureau, Abba Goldberg, is a convicted felon who was sentenced to a year and a half in prison for bilking poor communities with bond schemes. And PFOX has also had its tactics condemned by the worldwide psychological and medical profession, with leaders from the organization being thrown out of professional groups like the American Counseling Association for violating ethical protocols.
Wow, if the World Bank is willing to lend credence to an organization like PFOX, what does it say about their overall credibility?
What's also particularly troubling about the World Bank's endorsement of PFOX is that it looks like the Bank made an exception in order to squeeze PFOX under its Community Outreach Program guidelines. Under those guidelines, a qualifying organization is supposed to have “a substantial local presence in the Greater Washington metropolitan area.” But a 2009 report by the Washington City Paper revealed that PFOX has no presence in D.C.; moreover, the organization's headquarters are in Reedville, Virginia -- a whopping 127 miles from Washington, D.C.
“It is factually incorrect to say that PFOX has a ‘substantial local presence in DC’”, said Truth Wins Out’s Executive Director Wayne Besen. “Either PFOX is committing fraud against the World Bank, or they are receiving special rights from the organization and inexplicably allowed to pass as a local organization.”
The World Bank has some serious explaining to do. If you listen to World Bank spokespeople, they say that their support of PFOX shouldn't be considered an endorsement of PFOX's work.
"'Because Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX) met the minimum criteria for inclusion on the Community Connections campaign, they were included this year," said a spokesperson for the World Bank, according to Metro Weekly. But the fact of the matter is that at the end of the day, money from the World Bank will be going toward an organization that wants to change the sexual orientation of gay people.
Send the World Bank a message that their decision to include PFOX in the Community Outreach Program is as offensive as it is tactless. This is an organization that uses manipulation and discredited psychological tactics to "cure" people of their sexual orientation, has ties to an anti-gay bill in Uganda that could wipe out an entire population of gay people, and who has a leadership that includes people with shady criminal ties. Is that really the type of "charity" the World Bank wants to lend credence to?


Vicious Calif. Gay Bashing Targets Straight Man

By Kilian Melloy -

A California man who was viciously attacked by assailants uttering anti-gay epithets was left with a shattered eye socket and broken nose was reportedly informed that he won’t see the men who pummeled him charged with a hate crime--because he isn’t gay. The victim’s father was reportedly told that the fact that the victim is heterosexual would preclude bias crime charges. A district attorney’s office prosecutor disagrees.

The victim, Cory Case, a resident of Corona Del Mar, Calif., is a singer and songwriter. He fell asleep at a Halloween party and when he woke up, it was to discover that someone had scrawled the words "I’m Gay" across his arm, along with an obscene drawing, local newspaper the Orange County Register reported on Nov. 10.

That’s when two men attacked him, the article said, striking him in the face with the words, ""This guy’s a fag!" One of them struck Case in the head near the eye, knocking him unconscious; he did not see whether the blow came from a fist or a weapon, but authorities theorize that a baseball bat or something similar was used in the attack. Case came to about half an hour later, the article said, to find that he had been dragged out of the house and left on the lawn. No one had contacted the police or emergency medical services.

Police told Philip Case, Cory’s father, that hate crimes charges would only apply if Cory really had been gay. Deputy District Attorney Israel Claustro disputed that, telling the newspaper, "Courts have held that’s it’s the perception of the suspect that is punishable, and not whether a victim actually is homosexual or not."

No arrests have been made in connection with the attack, but Philip Case is a lawyer and is determined to secure justice for his son. Facebook photos of the men Cory thinks attacked him have already provided one possible lead.

The incident is a reminder of the prevalence of anti-gay sentiment and the violence it can prompt. It also illustrates an often-overlooked facet of hate crimes: the perpetrators may set out to attack a person they perceive is gay, but sometimes they get it wrong.

A March 31, 2009 EDGE article on straight victims of gay bashers noted that when straights are attacked by would-be gay bashers, it often leads to more media attention than when gays suffer violence at the hands of bias-driven attackers. The head of the Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, Sharon Staple, told EDGE, "Empathy for a victim whose innocence becomes all the more pronounced, considering they were chosen on a false premise, is part of the reason why cases where perception--and not actual sexual orientation--get the most attention."

However, Staple noted, when straights are attacked by mistaken homophobes, the impact on the wider community is that much deeper because it brings to light the sinister fact that violence, whoever it targets, affects everyone. Such attacks cause people to "stop and say this could happen to any of us, because it’s not about who we are," Staple said. "It’s about who the perpetrator thinks we are." On such occasions, "we can come together as a community and to say this isn’t right," added Staple. "This sort of violence shouldn’t happen to anybody."

One high profile case of an anti-gay attack that targeted straight victims unfolded two years ago, on Dec. 7, 2008, when two brothers from Ecuador, José and Romel Sucuzhañay, were assaulted by two men as they walked down a street in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. The brothers had been out late following a church function; as they walked home in the frigid night, the brothers threw their arms around one another and drew close to keep warm. That, evidently, served as the cue for their attackers, one of whom chased Romel while the other beat José with a baseball bat. José later died.

In that case, the fact that José was heterosexual did not stop his killer, Keith Phoenix, from being found guilty of murder as a hate crime and sentenced to 37 years to life in prison. The other assailant, Hakim Scott, was sentenced to forty years.

Gender Public Advocacy Coalition executive director Riki Wilchins told the Associated Press at the time of Sucuzhañay’s murder that violence against gays is often carried out by groups of young men who select their targets based on a perception of effeminacy. They also target trans individuals. "These assailants are looking to eradicate and exterminate something that enrages them, and that is what makes them hate crimes," said Wilchins.

Stapel agreed, telling the Associated Press in a Dec. 12, 2008, article that anti-gay violence was spiking, in part, because 2008 was an election year that featured high-profile anti-gay ballot initiatives, including the extremely divisive Proposition 8 campaign, California’s voter-approved repeal of previously-existing marriage rights for gays and lesbians.

"Election years are always violent years for us because of wedge issues," explained Stapel. "With increased visibility comes increased vulnerability to LGBT stereotypes and violence. We’ve seen some of the most violent hate crimes that we’ve seen in a while" during the 2008 election cycle."

In Britain, another high-profile case of straights suffering anti-gay attacks was the result of two heterosexual friends on a reality TV program being mistaken for gay men by viewers.

A site dedicated to local news,, reported on April 21 that the TV series, titled Coach Trip, often features couples competing against other couples during a journey to various European destinations. Each week, one couple is voted off the bus. The two men, Romane Hole and Nathan Evans, are both straight and are just friends, but they jokingly held hands when they boarded the bus at the start of the journey, which commenced in Athens.

"We had no idea how gay we were going to look by holding hands," said Evans. "Then all the way through the series, the [episodes] seem to have been edited to make us look as if we are a homosexual couple, rather than a pair of straight friends."

Though the men were on the bus through to the end of the program’s last season, that also meant that they are in every episode--and viewers saw them every week. Some viewers not only got the wrong idea about the men, but allegedly acted in violently homophobic ways based on that impression.

"Ever since that first episode appeared on the television, we have suffered name-calling and constant verbal abuse in the streets--mostly from gangs of teenagers, who seem to think it’s funny to call us gay," said Hole, adding that, "at its worst, the abuse has included physical attacks. I had a bottle thrown at me as I was walking down Park Street last week, while the attackers shouted homophobic abuse at me."


Cindy McCain Temporarily Stands Against 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' and Her Husband, UPDATED


Cindy McCain, the Arizona Republican Senator’s wife, made huge headlines across the country Thursday when she joined once again with the gay activist NoH8 Campaign, bucking her husband’s fervent stance against the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and came out in support of repeal. But late Friday night, in a dramatic about-face, Cindy McCain issued a statement via Twitter, “I fully support the NOH8 campaign and all it stands for and am proud to be a part of it. But I stand by my husband’s stance on DADT.”


Cindy McCain has delivered a double-barreled rebuke -- to the military's "don't ask don't tell" policy -- and to her husband, one of the policy's leading supporters. She chose as her forum a new anti-bullying public service video sponsored by a California gay and lesbian rights group.
"Our political and religious leaders tell LGBT youth that they have no future. They can't serve our country openly," says Cindy McCain. "Our government treats the LGBT community like second class citizens..."
Her appearances, totaling less than 15 seconds in the two and a half minute film, are interspersed between those of other celebrities, who also decry policies and attitudes that condone anti-gay bullying.
"After the recent LGBT suicides in the news, she wanted a way to speak out," videographer Adam Bouska, who produced the film, told ABC News. "We had been working on this anti-bullying PSA video, and she had reached out, and it was pretty simple."

The comments are the first time Ms. McCain has so publicly criticized the ban on openly gay and lesbian service members and exposes a deep divide over the issue of gay rights in one of the country's most prominent conservative families.
Sen. John McCain, a former Republican presidential nominee and decorated Vietnam veteran, has been a spirited supporter of "don't ask don't tell" and led the effort to block repeal of the policy during a Senate vote in September.
Bouska said the reference to the military's gay ban in the video was part of a script read by all participants during the taping. But editors chose to include McCain's delivery in the final cut, he said, "to make it as powerful as we can and as effective as we can."

"Don't ask, don't tell is a direct form of discrimination. It's bullying in an adult form. And it's still going on in our military every day," said Bouska.
A federal judge ruled in October that "don't ask, don't tell" was unconstitutional and ordered its enforcement halted immediately. An appeals court later suspended the injunction while the case continues -- a move the Supreme Court affirmed on Friday.
McCain's daughter, Meghan, a conservative blogger, has publicly aired her disagreement with her father, tweeting in September, "I am a supporter of LGBT rights and I am against DADT -- I fight every day."
Earlier this year, the McCain women appeared in a provocative photo campaign on the Web site of the gay rights group "NOH8" to support a repeal of California's Proposition 8, which banned the same-sex marriages in 2008. The group also produced the anti-bullying video.
"My wife and my family and I have our differences and we respect each others' views and we have spirited conversations," Sen. McCain, 74, said of his family's involvement in the campaign. "I obviously have always been opposed to gay marriage. I support proposition 8."
In October, McCain, who was campaigning for re-election, told local Phoenix TV station KPNX that he would continue to defend "don't ask don't tell" in Congress in the months ahead.
"Absolutely I will filibuster or stop it [a repeal] from being brought up until we have a thorough and complete study on the effect of morale and battle effectiveness," the four-term incumbent Republican senator from Arizona said. "That is the position of the four service chiefs."
An ongoing Pentagon study of potential impacts of lifting the ban on openly gay troops is due to be completed by Dec. 1. But it's unclear how soon the results of that study will be shared with top military brass and members of Congress.

Sources familiar with a draft copy of the study have said the findings reveal minimal risk to ending policy and that most service members wouldn't care if they had to live and work alongside openly gay and lesbian peers.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised another vote on a defense authorization bill that includes repeal, in the weeks before Congress adjourns for the year and Republicans assume new seats in both chambers.
The House has already approved a conditional repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." 

President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen have all endorsed ending the policy and want Congress to consider a repeal during the upcoming lame duck session.
"I would like to see the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell,' but I'm not sure what the prospects for that are," Gates told reporters last weekend while traveling to Australia.
More than 75 percent of Americans believe gays should be allowed to serve openly in the military, a support rate higher than at any other time since the policy took effect in 1993, according to the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll.


Gibraltar Supreme Court considers gay age of consent

By Jessica Geen -

The Gibraltar Supreme Court is considering whether the age of consent for gay men is discriminatory.
The territory currently allows lesbians and heterosexuals to have sex at 16, but the age of consent for gay men is 18. Anal sex is illegal between men and women.
Chief Minister Peter Caruana and Attorney General Ricky Rhoda have asked the court to declare whether the current law is constitutional.
The Gibraltar government’s arguments against lowering the age of consent for gay men were published in February.
It argues that the matter can be justified on health and religious grounds.
Documents said: “Religious faith plays an important role in our community and is also an important part of its social cohesion which would be undermined.”
On health, they added: “widening the range of sexual practices which can be committed with young people puts even more pressure on them to be sexually active and there is no doubt that anal sex carries greater health risks than heterosexual intercourse.”
The government also argues that it is heterosexuals being discriminated against, rather than gay men, as straight couples are completely banned from having anal sex.
The British government will argue that the law must be changed to comply with human rights legislation. It has the power to impose legislation on Gibraltar and has not ruled out doing so.
According to the Gibraltar Chronicle, a referendum could take place if Chief Justice Anthony Dudley rules that the law is unconstitutional but will not say what the age of consent for everyone should be.
Options could include allowing gay men to have sex at 16, bringing the age for everyone up to 18 or meeting halfway by making it `17.


Delhi eunuchs to be given pensions

All adult eunuchs in Delhi, India, will be given pensions of 1000 rupees (£14) per month in recognition of their low status, the local government has announced.
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) already pays a pension to people such as senior citizens, widows and the mentally or physically disabled.
To be eligible for the pension, eunuchs must show that they do not have male genitalia and that they are unmarried and over the age of 18.
India is thought to have around 1.5 million eunuchs or hijiras, as they are also known. Although they were traditionally surrounded by superstition and myth from their role of guarding the emperor’s wives, modern society has been less tolerant of them.
Many are shunned by their families and struggle to obtain conventional jobs, instead turning to begging and prostitution to earn a living. Some earn money by dancing at weddings and performing blessings.
Local councillor Jagdish Mamgain told the Hindustan Times: “Eunuchs belong to the deprived section of society. They hardly have any employment opportunity, and when they get older, there is no way to make ends meet.
“Since the government does not have any machinery to provide employment and assistance to them, MCD is now going to do their bit by providing pension to eunuchs residing in Delhi.”
The community has won new rights in the last few years. They may now select ‘E’ for eunuch on passports and some government forms and last November, the Electoral Commission of India allowed them to choose ‘O’ for other on voting forms.


Critics bully ‘Glee’ for last night’s ‘gay-focused’ episode

“You can’t punch the gay out of me any more than I can punch the ignoramus out of you”–
A sentiment that surely resonated with “Glee” fans familiar with the wrath of an anti- gay bully, but was Kurt (Chris Colfer)’s performance in the show’s first hands-on attempt at dealing with gay intolerance a bit too much?
For some, a gay-centric episode of a hit TV show abounding with gay pride messaging and “too much drama” is an anomaly. But many critics are bashing the episode for its “cop-out” techniques; Ryan McGee described it to NBC as  “a combination of wish fulfillment coupled with audience punishment.” The “Never Been Kissed” episode of “Glee” aired last night, November 10th, as a measure to address issues surrounding gay-bullying among our youth.
In one memorable scene, “jock” character, Dave Karofsky (Dave Adler) shoved Kurt into a locker in their high school hallway, and, fighting back, Kurt yelled and followed the bully into the locker room to confront him. A furious Kurt unleashed a series of  arguments with a very “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it” undertone,  “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy told The New York Times. And instead of punching Kurt, as I think everyone (including the characters themselves) expected, Dave aggressively grabbed Kurt’s face and kissed him.

The unexpected twist landed “Glee” a slew of critiques along the lines of  “tasteless,” “overt” and “unnecessarily sexual,” according to and The New York Times.  Most consistently, complaints have dealt with the approach being “out of character” for the show, reports Many feel the portrayal of bullying and Dave’s coming out was “too simple”– failing to send a positive message to gay viewers (and an educational one to everyone else).

Mixed feelings about the episode leave some viewers wondering about the possibility of  Dave becoming a recurring character and how the show will go about dealing with its portrayal of gay characters in the future, according to and
Yes, the episode was a bit cheesy. Unrealistic? Maybe. But shouldn’t we be focusing on the more important part of this story–the fact that a major TV series chose to dedicate an entire episode to delivering a message of empowerment and courage to gay youth? In light of recent tragedies brought on by homophobic bullying, audiences should be more interested in themes and intentions of the media, instead of being so quick to criticize the techniques used to implement them.


Justice Kagan recuses herself from DADT case

By Nan Hunter -

In a thoroughly unsurprising decision, the Supreme Court today denied the application by Log Cabin Republicans to reinstate Judge Phillips' injunction blocking enforcing of the DADT policy. LCR lawyers sought to lift the stay granted by the Ninth Circuit, but the Court left it in place.

What was noteworthy is that Justice Kagan took no part in the deliberation or decision. There was no reason stated for the recusal, but it likely was based on Justice Kagan's participation as Solicitor General in other challenges to DADT. It means that if the repeal effort fails and the litigation continues, she will not participate if and when a DADT case reaches the Supreme Court.

With the policy remaining in effect, the LCR lawyers may well ask the Ninth Circuit to expedite the appeal, as has been ordered in the Prop 8 case before the same court.

for more visit Hunter for Justice.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Cher talks Chaz's sex change on Letterman

The 64-year-old music icon isn't shy about discussing her daughter's decision to become a man with David Letterman. Listen in.


O, Canada!

By Robyn

Unlike here in the US, we have some
progress to report from north of the border.

Recently the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights of the Canadian Parliament had been working on C-389, otherwise known as the Transgender Rights Bill. On November 2 the Committee reported the bill back to the House of Commons for its Third Reading, where it is awaiting its final vote. If that is successful, it would move on to the Senate for approval.

Bill C-389 adds gender identity and gender expression to the Canada Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code of Canada hate crimes provisions. The bill's author is MP Bill Siksay of the New Democratic Party (the social democrats, sadly missing in the US).

Bigoted Radio Host Attacks Joel Burns’ Message to Gay Teens

Joel Burns, attacked for message to bullied teens
As we discussed here a few weeks ago, Fort Worth City Council Member Joel Burns has been called a hero for making a brave and impassioned speech at a meeting last month.

Joel has since appeared on talk shows and news programs around the country, introducing his husband to the world and telling his story. He’s inspired thousands by sharing what happened to him and encouraging young people with his own personal “It Gets Better” message.

Today, the Dallas Voice shares with us the backlash that Joel is receiving in the form of a hateful, bigoted radio host on KILF. Chris Krok expounds about how Joel should not have told his story because it was about “me, me, me.” Using a fake lisp, Krok mocks Joel saying “Look at me! I Thuffered!” He goes on to argue that Joel doesn’t have a husband because it’s not legal in Texas. “You’re a man. You do not have a husband” he says.

Chris Krok

Krok personifies the intolerance and ignorance that LGBT kids face on a daily basis. Please call and email KLIF and tell them that Chris Krok’s attack on LGBT people was harmful and ignorant and that Krok must answer for his public bigotry. We will be investigating this further and finding out the advertisers associated with this show and asking people to make calls to the show’s supporters as well. If anyone here listens to KILF from 4-7pm and recognizes the numbers or names of any of the show’s advertisers, please reply here.

214-526-2400 Is the Main Office number of KILF or email the Operations Director, Jeff Catlin at


Michigan gay teen defends suspended teacher

Jay McDowell - a high school teacher in Michigan - was suspended without pay after he removed two students from his class for making anti-gay comments. Dozens of people packed a school board meeting in Howell, to express their support for McDowell, and they included 14-year-old Graeme Taylor.
Several people from various teachers' unions, GLBT groups and areas such as Ann Arbor, Lansing and Saline spoke on behalf of McDowell, urging the board to rescind the disciplinary action the district handed out.
Board President Debi Drick said no board action can be taken regarding discipline handed out by district administrators to McDowell. She said the issue is strictly related to administrative issues and that the board doesn't decide personnel matters short of termination.


Transgender people find their voice at NC school

By Martha Waggoner -

AP Photo/Gerry Broome

Nicole Hatch had spent six figures on her transition from a male to a female, including flying to Thailand for sexual reassignment surgery and spending at least $20,000 on facial hair removal.

But her voice still gave her away - callers would refer to her as "sir" when she answered the phone.

So Hatch came to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where speech pathologists teach transgender people how to speak like the people of the sex they’re becoming or have become.

"To me, there’s nothing worse than seeing someone dressed as a woman, a beautiful woman," said Hatch, 57. "Then she opens her mouth and she sounds like a sailor. It’s very off-putting for people."

The former Florida chiropractor took eight private classes at UNCG, learning to redirect her voice through the front of her mouth instead of her throat or chest so that she sounds more feminine. "Voice is, I would say, 50 percent of being able to pass," Hatch said.

Each semester, speech pathologists within UNCG’s School of Health and Human Performance teach about eight of so transgender people in a program that began 12 years ago, says Dean Celia Hooper, who taught the transgender voice classes at UNCG for five years until she became dean in 2008.

The classes for transgender clients - people who want to live as the gender they weren’t assigned at birth - are a tiny part of the work of UNCG’s speech and hearing center. The classes concentrate a lot on pitch, but the clients also learn about loudness, quality of voice and movement, especially facial and hand gestures.

German footballer Mario Gomez says gay players should come out

There are no openly gay major
football players in the German game.
Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez has urged gay footballers to come out of the closet.
The player told German magazine Bunte that homosexuality was a “taboo topic” in sport, Die Zeit reports
His comments mark a change from the norm in German sports, as a number of players who have recently spoken about the issue warned that anyone coming out would face huge pressure.
Gomez said: “They would play as if they had been liberated. Being gay should no longer be a taboo topic.”
He added that there were plenty of role models in German society to inspire gay players come out.
“We’ve got a gay vice-chancellor [Guido Westerwelle]; the Berlin mayor [Klaus Wowereit] is gay. So professional footballers should own up to their preference,” he said.
In March, former German football manager Rudi Assauer said gay men should not play football because they will be ridiculed.
He said: “If a player came to me and said he was gay I would say to him: ‘You have shown courage’. But then I would tell him to find something else to do.
“That’s because those who out themselves always end up busted by it, ridiculed by their fellow players and by people in the stands. We should spare them these witch hunts.”
Tim Wiese, a player for Germany and Werder Bremen, said that gay players would came out would be “destroyed” by “merciless fans”, while Bayern Munich defender Philipp Lahm said that openly gay players would struggle to cope with the scrutiny.
Currently, there are no out gay players in the German Bundesliga. Marcus Urban, who played for the national youth teams in the 1990s before settling at second division club Rot-Weiss Erfurt did come out but quit the game immediately afterwards.


DADT: Hanging On By Our Fingernails....

By David Mixner -

The last hurrah is taking place in Washington right now as a frantic effort is made to rescue "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" from the jaws of defeat. Statements from the White House, the Department of Defense and activists have created a flurry of activity to beat the deadline of the end of this Congress. While I have enormous admiration for those who are fighting hard to achieve repeal, they face enormous odds. Being somewhat skeptical on the chance for success I sincerely hope I am proven wrong and somehow they are able to perform legislative miracles and repeal this oppressive and odious piece of legislation.
Going for us are the leaks coming out of the Pentagon that the report will show almost mild to no opposition from the rank and file about serving with open members of the LGBT community. Secretary Gates issuing statements urging Congress to achieve this milestone before recess. Activist senators, like New York Senator Gillibrand, are fighting hard for repeal. An impressive, passionate and committed group of activists are determined not to surrender until the last shot has been fired. Finally, there is the righteousness of the cause that has enabled a vast majority of the American people, the national media and people of conscience everywhere to support repeal.
Going against is a wasted two year opportunity when this could have easily been repealed. The President and our some of our national organizations blew it. The failure of the Obama team to seize the Phillips court decision and end it right there will be judged harshly by history. The misguided and somewhat baffling statements by Secretary Gates how critical it is for the repeal to be decided by the Congress and not the courts. Wonder if he would feel the same way about Brown vs Board of Education and Roe vs Wade? Exactly again what is the chaos he thinks will take place if Court action determines our fate? Finally Obama's new Marine Commandant gives the opponents all the ammunition they need to hold up repeal until the new Congress. His statements against repeal is music to Senator John McCain's ears.
What is clear is that the real courage is going to have to come from Republican senators who are very vulnerable to right wing challenges next year like Senator Olympia Snowe (R- Maine) and Senator Richard Lugar (R- Indiana). Both have been chosen by the Tea Party for primary challenges next year. Voting for repeal will almost certainly guarantee that they will face a primary.
In the next week we will know if the determined efforts of a number of courageous people will end a horribly repressive law or if we will pay a great price for the strategy of this administration and some of our national groups. Please do everything you can in the next couple of days to support repeal. In the end, we must have the knowledge and comfort that we left no stone unturned and no soldier behind.

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


Irish civil partners to be included in immigration laws

Ireland will soon allow civil partnershi
The Irish justice minister Dermot Ahern has tabled amendments to give civil partners equal treatment in Ireland’s immigration laws.
The Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill is currently at Committee stage in the Dáil.
Civil partnerships were signed into law by president Mary McAleese in July.
However, gay couples will not be able to have civil partnerships until January, as tax and social welfare changes have to be made by the departments of Finance and Social Protection.
According to gay group GLEN, inclusion of civil partners in immigration law will build on progress already made in providing recognition for same-sex couples in immigration regulations.
In provisions for people in de facto relationships, non EU same-sex partners of Irish or EU nationals are now entitled to apply for permission to remain in the state on the basis of their relationship.
GLEN director of policy change Eoin Collins said: “This is a very important advance and will help deliver greater security for same-sex couples worried about separation due to immigration difficulties.”
Mr Collins also thanked Alan Shatter and Lucinda Creighton of Fine Gael who tabled similar amendments.
In August, up to 3,000 people protested in Dublin to call for gay marriage, instead of civil partnerships.


Maryland lawmaker makes history with win

By David J. Hoffman -

Mary Washington says she expects Maryland
to enact marriage equality within four years.
Mary Washington is not only a newly elected Maryland state legislator, who won her seat as a Democrat in the 141-member House of Delegates on Nov. 2. She is also only the second out black lesbian elected to statewide office in the nation.
And she’s confident about the expansion of LGBT rights in decidedly blue Maryland. Does she see same-sex marriage rights coming soon?
“Yes,” she declares, “I’m very encouraged that we will absolutely see recognition of civil marriage in Maryland within the next four years.”
Washington was endorsed by the Ministerial Alliance, the most prominent area inter-denominational coalition. She adds that “gays and lesbians have moved so far in Maryland already, and I strongly feel that we also now need to focus on protections for transgendered people.”
She recognizes that Maryland bucked “a red tide on Election Day,” when Democrats lost more than 650 state legislative seats nationwide. “Maryland now stands as a beacon of hope for progress and social justice,” according to Washington. The reason the Republican riptide faltered in Maryland is that, “we have a tradition of moderation and civility and we don’t typically have strong, ultra-conservative voters,” and she adds that “we also know how to organize our candidates for great campaigns.”
But even so, dirty tricks were employed late on Election Day, when robo-calls — what Washington called “ugly phone calls” to suppress minority turnout — went to more than 50,000 voters, urging them to “relax” and stay home instead of voting. According to stories in the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun, the automated calls were at the behest of a political operative working for former Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, the Republican who lost the rematch race to Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat.
Washington, 48, the eldest of six children, is a Philadelphia High School for Girls graduate. She took a while to complete college, calling herself “a very non-traditional student” who had to work for several years and then enrolled in Antioch University’s branch campus in Philadelphia. She earned a bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate in 1987.
While in college she was already politically active, she says, protesting often against Reagan-era social and economic policies. She coordinated volunteers for voter registration during the Rainbow Coalition’s Freedom Summer in 1984.
In 1989, she moved to Baltimore to begin a doctoral study in sociology at Johns Hopkins University, where she was elected president of the university’s Graduate Student Association. With her emphasis on demographic studies, population statistics and education, she focused in particular on racial data gathered through the U.S. Census.
As for Baltimore, it was love at first sight for the city, she now says. But in 1996, she began a four-year stint teaching sociology at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and then in 2000 she won a post-doctoral fellowship back in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, she was exploring her sexual orientation and coming out, but she mostly keeps such aspects of her personal life, including details on the person she is dating now, private.
After her return to Baltimore, she founded the city’s HousingStat program, targeting the municipal housing agency to make it more accountable to the needs of residents. In her own northeast Baltimore neighborhood, she served as president of the Abell Improvement Association for two years.
In 2006, she ran for but narrowly lost election to the House of Delegates. Then, in 2007-2008 she was an organizer in Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. But she also had her eye on running again in the next state legislative election in 2010. This time Washington ran on the “leadership team” in the 43rd District on a slate with Sen. Joan Carter Conway and Dels. Curt Anderson and 18-year House veteran Maggie McIntosh, also a lesbian, who since 2001 has been in the House Democratic leadership as majority leader.
The state will now send a record number of seven openly gay or lesbian lawmakers to Annapolis, three more than before, including incumbent State Sen. Rich Madaleno in Montgomery County, along with incumbent Dels. Heather Mizeur, Anne Kaiser and McIntosh, joined by freshmen Dels. Bonnie Cullison, Luke Clippinger and Washington.


Conference encourages LGBT-friendly fraternities and sororities

By Joseph Erbentraut -

Shane Windmeyer, Shane Windmeyer,
founder of the Lambda 10 Project,
will be among those at the OUT &
Greek National LGBT & Ally Fraternity
& Sorority Leadership Conference at
Indiana University on Friday, Nov. 12.
For many LGBT youth experiencing harassment and bullying in their middle and high schools, college provides much-needed hope for something better, and Dan Savage’s popular YouTube channel and other national campaigns have concurrently trumpeted the message it will, indeed, "get better". Such proclamations, however, appear to fall short of the reality facing students on campuses across the country, particularly those who wish to join a fraternity or sorority.

Two Vanderbilt University students were reportedly asked to leave the Christian fraternity Bet Upsilon Chi earlier this month because they violated the organization’s policy against openly gay members. And an Emory University said he was literally dragged out of a Sigma Nu fraternity party last month after he admitted he was gay.

The Greek system would appear to be living up to its stereotype of resisting openly LGBT leaders and members, but one organization is attempting to turn this perception on its head with a national conference specifically addressing the concerns of LGBT fraternity and sorority members while also attempting to foster a more accepting Greek system. Campus Pride’s Lambda 10 Project initiative launches its third annual OUT & Greek National LGBT & Ally Fraternity & Sorority Leadership Conference at Indiana University in Bloomington on Friday, Nov 12.

Shane Windmeyer, who founded the Lambda 10 Project as an IU grad student in 1995, told EDGE the project has attracted a lot of interest, though economic conditions have hindered the number of campuses who are able to travel to this year’s conference. He said they expected 50 attendees to participate.

"We want to create a paradigm shift in terms of changing attitudes and behaviors from what we’ll call the ’traditional’ sororities and fraternities," said Windmeyer. "They’ve always had gay members but have never really embraced that aspect of diversity within their organizations."

And just as recent headlines have shed light on lingering homophobia within the Greek system others show signs of progress.

Members of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity at Rutgers University were among the on-campus groups that led efforts to speak out against the alleged anti-gay harassment that reportedly prompted Tyler Clementi to take his own life last month. Windmeyer is optimistic the Rutgers fraternity’s outspokenness will serve as an example to other Greek organizations.

"Our goal is to get fraternities and sororities to realize they can be visible and out as allies to the LGBT community, in either responding to bias or hate crimes when they happen or by being proactive in their chapters, making sure their members know they don’t tolerate any type of discrimination and anti-gay behavior," he said.

Conference sessions will include CAMPUSPEAK CEO T.J. Sullivan speaking on "the new gay Greek" and activist Brian Johnson addressing the importance of multicultural interaction. Other panels will address strategies of becoming a stronger campus leader and fostering safe spaces for LGBT people within the Greek system.

The conference’s goals are doubly timely following the release of the organization’s first-ever national study of the experiences of LGBT people in higher education; including 5,000 students, faculty and staff, The report found nearly one-quarter of lesbian, gay and bisexual respondents experienced harassment that interfered with their ability to work or learn. And nearly half hid their sexual identity to avoid intimidation.

Findings from the report’s transgender respondents were even more alarming. Thirty-nine percent of students, faculty and staff reported experiencing harassment on the basis of their gender identity or expression. Nearly half of the study’s trans respondents reported fearing for their physical safety on campus, dwarfing the only 13 percent of LGB respondents reporting the same experience.

Windmeyer said trans inclusion is a message he will also address more in this year’s conference than previous sessions. He said the Greek system has "never really dealt with the issue" though more trans men and women have attempted to join sororities and fraternities in recent years.

Above all, Windmeyer hopes the Bloomington conference will only be the beginning of a continued dialogue on the ways LGBT and Greek groups can work together on college campuses.

"I think we’ve had some really good success in creating change over the last 15 years," said Windmeyer. "But we want to work toward both starting those inroads [between Greeks and LGBT students] and pushing those inroads forward to make institutional change."


Focus on the Family picks up “Day of Truth”

By Timothy Kincaid -

The Day of Truth, conservative Christianity’s response to the Day of Silence, is moving to it’s third home in two years. While the Day of Silence has always been about recognizing the way in which gay students are silenced by culture, bullying and misunderstanding, the Day of Truth has had trouble identifying its message, meaning or audience.

The Day of Truth was originally started by Alliance Defense Fund as a tool to provoke confrontation between conservative Christian kids and their public school administrators. In 2004, Tyler Chase Harper wore a t-shirt to Poway High School on the Day of Silence which expressed his disagreement with recognizing the concerns of gay students. The front read “Be Ashamed” and “Our School Embraced What God Has Condemned,” and on the back, “Homosexuality is Shameful” and “Romans 1:27.”
When Harper was required to remove his message of condemnation, the ADF picked up his case claiming that his rights to freedom of religion and expression were being violated. The following year they rolled out the Day of Truth (“the truth cannot be silenced”) to encourage more students to protest the Day of Silence, but on the following day. A handy referral number to attorneys-standing-by was included, giving a none-to-subtle hint of the purpose of the event.
The first year was not particularly successful. And litigation on the Harper case was revealing that courts were not finding that he had a right to disparage fellow student in the public schools, so ADF decided to take a different approach.
In 2006, ADF shifted focus slightly. While their efforts continued to “counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda and express an opposing viewpoint from a Christian perspective” they also began guiding gay students towards ex-gay efforts. Softening the message of being anti-gay with a flavoring of “help for those struggling with homosexuality”, there was hope that Christian students would feel adequately justified in encouraging the culture of condemnation of homosexuality.
But “there’s hope for them” messages don’t really inspire teens. It takes stronger emotions, like compassion or contempt, to really get through. So while Day of Silence continued to spread with it’s “don’t bully” message, the Day of Truth’s vaguer “we disagree but don’t call us bigots” campaign struggled.
Contributing to DoT’s difficulties was an onslaught of competing messages from other conservative Christians. As early as 2006, those who wanted a stronger, militant, and more hostile message proposed alternative responses. That year PFOX (a sort of PFLAG for parents who refused to accept that their kids are gay) and Liberty Counsel (ADF’s wackier cousin anti-gay law firm) proposed a “Change is Possible Campaign“.
That didn’t really fly, but other alternatives were proposed. In 2008, Pastor Ken Hutchinson in Washington led a campaign to encourage students to stay home on the Day of Silence. Now “stay home from school” was a message that kids could take to heart and nearly a third of Mt Si High students played hookie. So in 2009, a number of the more extreme anti-gay activists attempted to take the stay-home protest nationwide. It failed.
But Day of Truth was hit with another challenge, one they likely did not expect. Dr. Warren Throckmorton challenged the premise that the Christian obligation was to defend bullies. He proposed that the way Christian kids should respond to the plight of anti-gay bullying is not with protest but with compassion and support. His Golden Rule Pledge allowed Christian kids to keep their religious code of sexual ethics but to pledge to treat gay kids the way they would want to be treated.
Bracketed by contrasting calls for more condemnation and more compassion, the Day of Truth was confronted by its worst enemy: a lack of interest. Secular newspapers found them slightly distasteful, but not enough to be shocking and newsworthy. And even religious news sources couldn’t find anything new or interesting to say about their efforts. So, after four years, Alliance Defense Fund had had enough.
In January 2009, ADF gifted Exodus International with the Day of Truth.
This was a bit of an awkward fit. Exodus, the umbrella ex-gay organization, was at this time going through a reevaluation of their interaction with the gay community. Although they had in the past become quite involved in anti-gay political efforts, they were recommitting their focus to those who “struggle with unwanted homosexuality” and stepping back from activism. So instead of a day dedicated to “countering the homosexual agenda”, the Day of Truth now morphed into a lukewarm ex-gay appeal. (Baptist Press)
As part of Monday’s Day of Truth students will pass out cards during non-class time with a message, which says in part, “It’s time for an honest conversation about homosexuality. There’s freedom to change if you want to.”
The 2010 Day of Truth was somewhat uneventful. Years of squabbling over the message and ownership of the opposition to the Day of Silence had worn everyone out and it may also be that by this time Exodus’ heart just wasn’t in it.
And Exodus’ continued introspection and evolution had them backing away from talk about “change”. The Jones and Yarhouse Study update had come out and it was pretty clear that “freedom to change if you want to” was no longer a viable claim. So, yet again, the message shifted – this time to mutual respect and conversation about sexual ethics.
This year’s theme for the Day of Truth is “Get the Conservation Started.” Students can wear T-shirts and pass out cards with the message: “People with differing, even opposing, viewpoints can freely exchange ideas and respectfully listen to each other. It’s time for an honest conversation about the biblical truth for sexuality. Let’s get the conversation started!”
And then came September 2010 and report after report of teens committing suicide after experiencing anti-gay bullying. It was, no doubt, extremely troubling to Exodus. Many of the leaders in Exodus have over the year expressed how they were bullied in school and I’m sure they found it easy to see themselves in these kids. And while the nation was shocked by the string of incidents, it is without doubt that Exodus found the news to be horrifyingly personal.
In October 2010, Alan Chambers, president of Exodus, jettisoned the event.
“All the recent attention to bullying helped us realize that we need to equip kids to live out biblical tolerance and grace while treating their neighbors as they’d like to be treated, whether they agree with them or not,” said Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International, the group that sponsored the event this year.
With neither ADF or Exodus wanting to continue, it was uncertain whether they would be a seventh Day of Truth or, if so, who would lead it and what the message would be. But now it appears that the Day of Truth will be picked up by Focus on the Family and renamed and repackaged. (CNN)
A major Christian group will take over an annual event that challenges homosexuality, weeks after the event’s main Christian sponsor pulled support for the student-focused program, saying it had become too divisive and confrontational.
Focus on the Family, an influential evangelical organization, will begin sponsoring the event known as the Day of Truth but will change the name of the happening to the Day of Dialogue, the group is set to announce Thursday.
And it appears that yet again, the Day’s message will change. If statements by FotF’s Candy Cushman are indicative, the Day of Dialogue will readopt strident anti-gay messaging and take a more aggressive political stance.
“We’re trying to raise awareness that more than one side needs to be heard on the issue of homosexuality, and we’re helping to ensure Christian students have the chance to express their viewpoint,” said Candi Cushman, a Focus on the Family education analyst, in the release. “What is freedom of speech, after all, but a guarantee of the right to have dialogue?”
Focus on the Family in general and Candy Cushman in particular have a long history of expressing the “Christian viewpoint on homosexuality” and it has never been in terms that were sympathetic of bullied children or tolerant of others. It is highly doubtful that respect for differing viewpoints will be the theme of the Day of Dialogue – Focus doesn’t “diologue” that way.
I hope that I’m wrong. Early press releases on their sponsorship emphasize “love” as much as they do “truth”.
As these verses demonstrate, the model Christ gave us is one of sacrificial love that lays down one’s own life to rescue others. So Day of Dialogue activities should always reflect that spirit. Any verbal and written expressions used by students participating in this event should be loving and compassionate—and never be expressed in a condemning or antagonistic way to others. Even when we disagree with others, we should always demonstrate the utmost compassion and respect for them.
But far too often, Focus’ perspective of what is “loving” and that of the target of their “love” can be diametrically opposed. And if their new Day of Dialogue is an extension of their “True Tolerance” program, we can expect a rather obvious absence of truth, tolerance and love, sacrificial or otherwise, and in their place a call to reverse and remove the anti-bullying programs that are trying to provide support to LGBT youth. While Exodus found empathy for bullied kids, Focus identifies with the bullies.
In fact, we already know pretty much what Focus has in mind – confrontation and stereotypes:
It’s very politically incorrect these days to talk about male-female differences. If you want to see a good argument develop, just ask a group of students if there even are any differences. The unique and wonderful complementary qualities of masculinity and femininity have been blurred so that many see men and women as virtually interchangeable. Or the differences get exaggerated into over-the-top caricatures. But despite these distortions, we still see God’s separation of humanity into male and female, different but complementary, and equally of great value.
That, and fun things like the assertion that no one is really gay, or that “homosexual and “transgender” rights activists continue to do everything in their power to radically deconstruct the traditional and biblical understanding of sexuality, gender and marriage across all arenas of culture.
So it seems that the Day of Truth has come full circle, back to a day of confrontation and condemnation. I doubt that it will be well received.


Collins v. United States - Class Action for Military Separation Pay


Congress made a judgment that military personnel who serve their country for at least six years and are honorably discharged should get separation pay. The Department of Defense decided to cut that separation pay in half for any service member who is discharged for "homosexuality." The ACLU has filed a class action lawsuit challenging that discriminatory internal policy of the Department of Defense as unconstitutional. The separation-pay policy is not part of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the Department can change it immediately without waiting for congressional approval.
The lead plaintiff in the case is Richard Collins, a decorated former staff-sergeant in the U.S. Air Force who served for nine years until he was discharged from service under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Mr. Collins's superiors learned that he is gay when two civilian co-workers observed him exchange a kiss with his civilian boyfriend. Mr. Collins received an honorable discharge from the Air Force but discovered after the discharge had been completed that his separation pay had been cut in half on the grounds of "homosexuality."
The ACLU and the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network first contacted the Defense Department in November 2009 to request that the separation-pay policy be revised to eliminate the discrimination against gay and lesbian service members, but the department has refused to do so. Because of its refusal to change this discriminatory policy, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of New Mexico have filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
The lawsuit asks the court to allow the ACLU to bring claims on behalf of the following class of plaintiffs: "All United States service members who at any time from November 10, 2004 through the present were involuntarily separated from the military and were, pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 1174, entitled to full separation pay, but were deemed to be not fully qualified for retention and denied reenlistment or continuation because of homosexuality and therefore had their separation pay reduced by one-half."
If you believe that description applies to you, and that you may be eligible to participate in this class action, please click here for more information. Please understand that this case is not a general challenge to the "Don’t Ask Don’t Tell" military discrimination policy. It’s just about the separation pay issue. But the ACLU is working separately, including through the Witt v. United States Air Force case, to take down that discriminatory law as well.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

An Anti-Bullying Message From the NOH8 Campaign

Familiar faces join the NOH8 Campaign ( ) to remind everyone that bullying often starts with a joke! Don't be a bystander! Take Action!

If you or someone you know needs help, call The Trevor Lifeline at 866-4-U-TREVOR (866.488.7386) or visit


It Gets Better: The Salt Lake City Public Library

Straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered employees of the Salt Lake City Public Library share their personal stories of hope for anyone who's ever felt bullied or alone.


Gay Dallas couple legally weds in Texas, aims to bring ‘e-marriage’ to the same-sex masses

Mark Reed, left, and Dante Walkup
Each year countless gay and lesbian couples travel from Texas to places where same-sex marriage is legal to tie the knot.
But Mark Reed hopes same-sex couples in Texas will soon be able to conveniently — and legally — marry without even leaving the state.
Reed, a board member for the national LGBT direct action group GetEQUAL, recently married his longtime partner, Dante Walkup, at the W Dallas Victory hotel.
Their “Skype” wedding was officiated via teleconference from Washington, D.C., where same-sex marriage is legal, and they received their license in the mail a short time later.
It’s called “e-marriage,” and it’s a sort of high-tech version of the proxy wedding traditionally held when one of the parties can’t be physically present — because, for example, they’re in the military stationed overseas.
“The reason we wanted to do it this way is because we wanted to have a wedding here in Dallas with our family and friends,” Reed said. “It was very important that all of our family came. It was the first time they actually met, even though we’ve been together 10 years. If we had to go to D.C., there’s no way we could have had the people there who we wanted to be there.”
Reed and Walkup, co-owners of WDM Lighting on Oak Lawn Avenue, were married in a conference room at the W hotel on Oct. 10, in front of about 80 people with a 6-by-8-foot screen looming behind them.
The couple had rented a similar room at a W hotel in Washington, where marriage quality activist Sheila Alexander-Reid officiated the wedding.
“When we walked down the aisle, as soon as we reached the front, she comes on the screen like The Wizard of Oz,” Reed said. “It was beautiful. It wasn’t make-believe. It was like she was really there.”
Although Reed and Walkup were able to hold their ceremony in Dallas, they had to go to D.C. beforehand to register. And Reed said while D.C.’s marriage law has no provision against e-marriage, the validity of the procedure could theoretically be challenged in court.
That’s why the couple is now working with legal experts and legislators from states where same-sex marriage is legal to draft statutes that would solidify the practice. Reed and Walkup traveled this week to Michigan for a symposium on e-marriage.
While the couple has no intention of using their case to challenge Texas’ bans on same-sex marriage, Reed said they want to make it more convenient and less expensive for same-sex couples to legally wed.
Reed is also in the process of changing his surname in a Texas court, and he’s been fighting The Dallas Morning News — thus far unsuccessfully — to print their announcement in “Weddings” instead of in another section called “Commitments.”
“It’s like the more equal we can get through creative ways, we’re going to do it,” Reed said. “It’s just important to do anything we can to find creative ways around inequality.”


Malaysia's First Gay Film Set for Release

The first gay-themed film in Malaysia has been scheduled for release in February and will likely cause a controversy, reports Reuters. ...Dalam Botol (... In a Bottle) chronicles the relationship between a transsexual Muslim man called Ruby and her male lover, Ghaus.

"This is the first movie in Malaysia about gays," says Wan Raja, who plays Ghaus. "And it's going to get attention because it's something different."

Homosexuality is permitted in Malaysian-produced films only if the characters repent or are killed off, and those characters are usually minor. ...Dalam Botol will set a precedent in the predominantly Muslim country, where sex between two males is a criminal offense.


Department of Defense to Service Members: Homos Get Half

By James Esseks - 

There's been lots going on around Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) this fall, from a federal judge ordering the reinstatement of Maj. Margaret Witt, to the Obama Administration getting a stay of an order from another federal judge that would have barred the enforcement of DADT worldwide, to continuing efforts at repealing the law in Congress. The ACLU LGBT Project has just added to the frenzy with a new class action case that challenges another form of discrimination faced by gay service members — reduced separation pay.
If you serve six years in the military and are then discharged involuntarily, Congress says you're entitled to separation pay to help ease your transition to civilian life. But the military has a policy — not required by any law — of cutting that separation pay in half if you're discharged, even honorably, for "homosexuality."
That policy needlessly compounds the discrimination inflicted by DADT in the first place. Take the lead plaintiff in our case, Richard Collins. He was a decorated Air Force Staff Sergeant who served nine years before being kicked out under DADT. He was seen kissing his civilian boyfriend, in a car at a stoplight, when he was off duty, out of uniform, and 10 miles off base. After being discharged under DADT, Staff Sgt. Collins discovered that his separation pay had been cut in half just because he's gay. That was the last straw for Staff Sgt. Collins, and he approached the ACLU. He didn't want to challenge his discharge under DADT, but he did want his full separation pay — another $12,000.
We thought it would be easy to get him his full pay and change the rule. After all, President Obama is clearly on record that the DADT law is both unnecessary and harmful to national security. And the separation pay rule is an internal Department of Defense policy that the Administration can change on its own, without Congress.
Turns out we were wrong.
Over the course of the last year, we've written to DOD several times, spoken with DOD officials, and even wrote to Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates about the issue during hearings last winter on DADT repeal. But the administration hasn't budged — the DOD policy on separation pay remains the same: homos get half.
So today we've filed a class action case in the United States Court of Federal Claims challenging the separation policy under the equal protection and due process provisions of the Constitution. We seek to strike down the discriminatory policy and to recover the missing separation pay for those service members who were unconstitutionally denied it over the past six years. The lawsuit is also another opportunity to develop good law about what the 2003 Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down all criminal sodomy laws as violative of the constitution's privacy protections, means for other areas of gay rights law. This case is poised to build on earlier positive decisions in the DADT context in the Witt v. United States Air Force case in the 9th Circuit, and the Cook v. Gates case in the 1st Circuit.
But we're also in this for political reasons. The administration's refusal to fix this discriminatory separation policy — a policy entirely within its control — calls into question its commitment to eradicating discrimination in the military. And it's a reality that needs to be part of the national discussion of the issue as we all work, in the lame duck session, to get Congress and the administration to get serious about DADT repeal.
Act now: Tweet President Obama: @BarackObama @WhiteHouse End the discriminatory pay separation policy against gay service members #DADT @ACLU #LGBT