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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

EQUALITY - WHAT MATTERS: The latest in the LGBT rights movement

By Trevor Thomas -

SPEAKER BOEHNER HIRES PAUL CLEMENT TO DEFEND DOMA (via Ben Smith) – “Speaker John Boehner announced that former Bush administration Solicitor General Paul Clement will defend the Defense of Marriage Act on behalf of the House of Representatives, in the wake of the Justice Department's decision to no longer defend the law.”

HOW MUCH WILL THE DEFENSE COST TAXPAYERS?  A HALF MILLION DOLLARS (via Talking Points Memo) – “Former Bush Solicitor General Paul Clement, the lawyer House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) chose to support the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on behalf of Congress, will be paid $520 per hour in taxpayer money up to $500,000, according to a contract his law firm signed with the General Counsel of the House and the House Administration Committee.”

WHAT $500,000 WILL BUY IN THE GOVERNMENT (via Leader Pelosi’s Office)
--For $500,000 you could provide Pell Grants for 131 college students;
--For $500,000 you could enroll an additional 1,005 nutritionally-at-risk women and children up to age 5 in the WIC program;
--For $500,000 you could enroll an additional 64 children in Head Start;
--For $500,000 you could help pay the heating and cooling bills for 1,039 seniors and other struggling households;
--But to spend $500,000 of taxpayer money to defend discrimination is PRICELESS.

WORDS MATTER: NEW STUDY FINDS CONSERVATIVE ENVIRONMENT LINKED TO GAY TEEN SUICIDES (via AP) – “Suicide attempts by gay te ens — and even straight kids — are more common in politically conservative areas where schools don't have programs supporting gay rights, a study involving nearly 32,000 high school students found.” 
REACTION BY THE TREVOR PROJECT / SUICIDE HOTLINE CENTER - "Dr. Hatzenbuehler’s research highlights what we at The Trevor Project have observed through our Lifeline call data for more than a decade: that non-accepting community, school and family environments contribute to an elevated risk for suicide attempts among LGBTQ youth," said David McFarland, Interim ED of The Trevor Project.
DOWNLOAD THE EQM PODCAST – Richard Socarides discusses the California bill that would make the state the first to require the teaching of gay history in public schools; Kerry Eleveld talks about Obama’s newest DOMA dilemma; and Carlos Maza discusses Speaker Boehner’s announcement that former Bush administration Solicitor General Paul Clement will lead the defense of DOMA. The weekly Equality Matters podcast is now available for free download on iTunes:

TODAY’S NEW YORK TIMES: CUOMO MOBILZIES GROUPS – “Gay rights groups, which suffered the stinging defeat of a same-sex marriage bill in New York State in 2009, will publicly mount a new campaign for the legislation starting this week, relying on the popular Democratic governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, to overcome Republican resistance and their own history of poor coordination."

TUCKER CARLSON CALLS TEACHING LGBT HISTORY “PROPAGANDA” (via Equality Matters) – “On the April 19 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox news contributor Tucker Carlson bashed California’s FAIR Education Act (SB 48), a bill that would require state schools to teach students about the contributions of gay, lesbian, and transgender Americans to the development of California and the United States.  Carlson criticized the bill for presenting kids with ‘propaganda’ about LGBT people and pushing a pro-Islam agenda in schools.”

SIMILAR ATTACKS ON TEXTBOOKS SEEN BEFORE (via AP) – “California conservatives were outraged in 1966 when the state Board of Education adopted a new junior high school history textbook. The book's inclusive treatment of th e civil rights movement and influential black Americans would indoctrinate students, undermine religious values and politicize the curriculum, they said. Forty-five years later, gay rights advocates say similar arguments are being advanced to defeat a bill that would make the state the first to require the teaching of gay history in public schools.”

PREVIEW: OBAMA’S NEW DOMA DILEMMA: TO DEPORT OR NOT DEPORT? (via EQM’s Kerry Eleveld) -  “[Chrystal] Williams along with most advocates on this issue concedes that approving applications [of same-sex bi-national couples] could be legally construed as violating DOMA, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing marriages between same-sex couples. But she adds that simply holding the cases – thereby preventing deportations while the legal issues are settled – poses no such legal conflict. &l squo;When you see the administration say that it believes that a particular law is unconstitutional but then continue to administer that law when it doesn’t have to, that’s particularly outrageous,’ she said.”

BI-NATIONAL COUPLE SET TO BE TORN APART ON MAY 6 (via Courage Campaign) “Because they are gay, Josh can't sponsor Henry's visa to stay in the US even though they are legally married in the state of Connecticut. No one deserves to be taken away from the ones they love. On May 6th, Henry faces deportation to Venezuela. If we don't act, their family may be torn apart.”

TWO-PRONGED ATTEMPT TO STOP DEPORTATION OF BI-NATIONAL COUPLES (via Wash Blade) - Lawmakers initiated on Thursday a two-pronged approach to stop the separation of bi-national same-sex couples in the United States by introducing legislation and sending a letter to the Obama administration urging executive action.”

WOOF, WOOF, GAY DOGS DON’T BARK (via EQM’s Richard Socarides) – “The other thing that struck me about what the president said was that he was right about the dog. It didn’t bark. But who thought it would? …Generally, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal has turned out to be one of the most politically popular achievements of Obama’s first two years in office. The public’s positive reaction to it no doubt was an important factor in the president’s recent decision to stop defending the anti gay federal marriage law in court. That historic and courageous action by Obama will be recorded as a substantial turning point in our struggle.” 
NEW YORK TIMES FRONT PAGE: RELIGIOUS STUDENTS FIGHT FOR GAY IDENTITY – “Battles for acceptance by gay and lesbian students have erupted in the places that expect it the least: the scores of Bible colleges and evangelical Christian universities that, in their founding beliefs, see homosexuality as a sin. Decades after the gay rights movement swept the country’s secular schools, more gays and lesbians at Christian colleges are starting to come out of the closet, demanding a right to proclaim their identities and form campus clubs, and rejecting suggestions to seek help in suppressing homosexual desires.”

PROP 8 OPPONENTS PUSH TO RELEASE TRIAL FOOTAGE (via Equality Matters) – “Supporters of California’s Proposition 8 have been up in arms over former U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision to sho w a video clip from the landmark 2010 Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial, while giving a speech in February on the history of cameras in the courtroom.”
LEADER OF MAINE’S ANTI-GAY CAMPAIGN NOW REGRETS IT (via Press Herald) – “Call it winner's remorse. Seventeen months after he led the charge to repeal Maine's same-sex marriage law, Marc Mutty is anything but a happy man. In fact, a soon-to-be-released documentary shows that even back in the fall of 2009, the chairman of the Yes on 1 campaign found himself tethered to an increasingly heavy conscience.”

“HOMOSEXUAL CONDUCT” STILL ILLEGAL IN 14 STATES (via Equality Matters) – “Laws criminalizing private same-sex activity between two consenting adults are still on the books in fourteen states, according to an April 19 article in Mother Jones.” SEE THE MAP:

IN THE LIFE MEDIA FOCUSES ON TRANS STORIES (via In The Life) – &ldq uo;In The Life Media is releasing a web video, produced with generous support from The Calamus Foundation, featuring the personal stories of two transgender women, Ja’briel and Michelle, highlighting the findings of the first comprehensive transgender discrimination study completed by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force.” WATCH:

TOP FIVE MOMENTS FROM THE HOUSE’S “DEFENDING MARRIAGE” HEARING (via Equality Matters) – “House Republicans continued their ongoing effort to make LGBT discrimination a central part of their 2012 platform by holding a “Defending Marriage” hearing Friday, focusing primarily on the Obama administration’s decision not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court.” WATCH ALL FIVE: sp;
CARLOS MAZA: OBAMA SHOULD LEAD ON ENDA – “While some in Congress are working to organize Democratic support behind the bill this year, others have expressed interest in an executive order that would ‘bar the federal government from contracting with companies that don’t have their own workplace protections for LGBT people.’”
“REFUSE TO LIE” ON YOUR TAXES (via – “Each year the federal government demands that thousands of gay married couples lie. The federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) not only denies legally married gay couples the benefits of marriage, but we are also told to disavow our spouses and file our taxes as ‘single.’ Across the country, legally married gay couples are taking a stand. We are refusing to lie about the fact that we are married.”

FACEBOOK SAYS SORRY (via Pink News UK) – “Facebook has apologised for removing a photo of a gay kiss. The image, of a gay kiss on UK soap EastEnders, was removed for being ‘sexually suggestive’ and ‘abusive’. ... Facebook said in a statement: ‘The photo in question does not violate our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and wa s removed in error. We apologise for the inconvenience.’”

KEEPING AN EYE ON TRUMP (via On Top Magazine) – During a recent interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), Donald Trump, a potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate, said he remains against “gay marriage,” and added: “To be honest with you, as far as civil unions are concerned, I haven't totally formed my opinion.”
A REMINDER ON WHAT HE SAID BEFORE (via NY Daily News) - Earlier this month, Trump said he would be opposed to allowing gay and lesbian couples access to “the same benefits as married couples.” NY Daily News: “After thinking about it for a moment, however, Trump said: ‘As of this moment, I would say no and no’ to gay marriage and civil benefits.”

ENVIRONMENTALISTS SEEK GAYS’ ADVICE ON OBAMA (via Politico) – “Young environmentalists looking for a success story in pressuring a Democratic administration to advance their goals have found it from an unusual source: the gay rights movement.”
AT HARVARD LAW THIS FRIDAY – “Lunchtime Discussion with Richard Socarides: A discussion about the goals of LGBT policymakers in the government, and the current state of legal LGBT advocacy.”



EQM CONTACT: Trevor Thomas
Director of Programs
Equality Matters
202.772.0110 (o) 616.430.2030 (c)


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