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Saturday, February 12, 2011

In India, Sodomy ruling challenge

The Supreme Court of India will hear from 15 different parties in a case over the constitutionality of the 2009 Delhi High Court decision that overturned India’s sodomy laws.
Supporters of the original ruling the court will hear from include parents of GLBT people, teachers, mental health professionals, and one of India’s most decorated filmmakers, Shyam Bengal.
The parents will argue that criminalising homosexuality destroys families, while the mental health professionals will speak of the damage that recriminalising homosexuality would do to GLBT people.
Arguing for the law to be overturned are 15 other parties, largely Christian, Muslim and Hindu organisations.
The court refused to hear from astrologer Suresh Kumar Kaushal, who sought to include India’s armed forces as a party to the case. However, it will hear from a celebrity yoga master who has in the past claimed he can cure homosexuality with breathing exercises.


New Spanish-language radio drama tackles gay issues for rural Latino families


A Spanish-language radio drama is aiming to break the silence surrounding homosexuality and its acceptance in California's rural communities, where thousands of agricultural workers toil in fields while listening to the radio.
The radionovela, "Bienvenidos a Casa," or "Welcome Home," which premiered Friday across the Central Valley, tells the story of Carlos, a Latino teen who is rejected by his friends and family for being gay then finds acceptance with his mother and neighbors.
The show will air for nearly two months on Radio Bilingue, a national Spanish-language radio network headquartered in Fresno. A gay-rights group is working to air the series nationally.
Activists say it's the first time information about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues is reaching rural Latino farmworker communities in a language and format that's accessible.
The three-episode radionovela, developed in collaboration with San Francisco State University and California Rural Legal Assistance, was based on input from community focus groups and performed by community volunteers.
Many Latinos grew up listening to radionovelas, which in some parts of Latin America are more popular than television and have inspired the creation of telenovelas — TV soap operas. The radio dramas depict life's struggles through recurring characters and themes. In recent years, short radionovelas have become an increasingly popular way to raise awareness of various issues among Latino audiences in the U.S.
"People identify with the characters," said Delia Saldivar, the Radio Bilingue station manager who helped develop the program about gay Latinos.
Some mainstream Latino media ridicule people with different sexual orientations, Saldivar said, creating a need for positive stories.
Saldivar teamed up with California Rural Legal Assistance's Proyecto Poderoso, or Project Powerful, to engage California's hard-to-reach rural Latinos. For the past three years, Proyecto Poderoso has provided legal services to gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in farmworker communities.
Program manager Dan Torres said the project has helped Latinos who were ridiculed, beaten or even fired from their jobs because of their sexual orientation. It also has shown the lack of resources, information and awareness about such issues in farmworker communities, where the fear of coming out is so much more intense, he said.
"These are small towns and people fear that they will experience discrimination, that their kids will be harassed," Torres said.
The "Welcome Home" story line was guided by research conducted by San Francisco State University's Family Acceptance Project and published in the January 2009 issue of Pedriatrics.
The research found that higher rates of family rejection were significantly associated with poorer health outcomes among white and Latino lesbian, gay, and bisexual young adults.
A young person who experiences high levels of rejection is more likely to attempt suicide, use illegal substances, or engage in risky behavior for HIV. The research also found that Latino men reported the highest number of negative family reactions to their sexual orientation in adolescence.
Jorge Sanchez, a researcher with the Family Acceptance Project, said cultural issues make homosexuality a difficult topic among Latino families and communities.
"For Latinos, it's an open secret," Sanchez said. "There is silence about family issues, and that silence helps protect family harmony."
Latinos, especially in California, have a clear sense of discrimination, and they fear that children who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender may face more of it, Sanchez said.
"They say, I put up with enough hardship, I want my child to have an easier life; that's why we came to this country," Sanchez said.
Many Latino families change their behavior once they understand how rejection can harm their children, he said.
"Welcome Home" shows the possible negative impacts of rejection as well as the impacts of acceptance. Carlos is beaten up by friends for being gay, and he isolates himself from the family that rejects him. His mother's eventual acceptance and support help him come to terms with himself.
The radionovela also features a positive, loving relationship between two men, who live together and are respected and accepted by their families and communities.
Joseph Belmont, a Monterey, Calif., tutor, said he experienced ridicule and violence growing up in the rural town of Santa Maria.
"I had to go through a lot of self-destruction before my family tried to help and accepted me," he said. "I choose to speak about my sexuality now. I love my family and am grateful for the progress we made."


‘Glee’ Offers a Little Something For the (Lesbian) Ladies

By Lily Shavick -

If recent rumors prove true, there could be a lot more girl-on-girl action coming to Glee.
This Tuesday, February 15, Glee’s big Bieber episode airs and in the midst of all of Justin’s hits, we will be treated to a Broadway number known as one of the best lesbian love duets ever.
While the other members of McKinley’s glee club croon, “Baby,” Mercedes (Amber Riley) and Rachel (Lea Michele) will rouse lady viewers with a diva-off set to the tune of “Take Me or Leave Me.” The number hails from “Rent,” the award winning Broadway musical set amongst LGBT 20-somethings battling HIV in NYC.
As if that weren’t enough, spoilers say when Gwyneth Paltrow makes her triumphant return as substitute teacher Holly Holiday, she’ll be encouraging Santana (Naya Rivera) to own up to her bisexuality in Sex-Ed class.

Botswana MP says he hates gays and lesbians and would have gay people killed

A Botswana politician says he agrees with Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe’s views on homosexuality.
Pono Moatlhodi, who is the deputy speaker of the Botswana National Assembly, told a January meeting on HIV prevention that he would “never tolerate” gays and lesbians.
The meeting, held by the Botswana Network on Ethics Law and AIDS and the Parliament AIDS Committee, was discussing how to prevent HIV transmission in prisons.
According to the Botswana Gazette, Mr Moatlhodi said: “On this point I would agree with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe who once described that behaviour as that of western dogs; I don’t like those gay people and will never tolerate them. They are demonic and evil.
“When there are so many women in this country, why would anyone choose to have sex with another man? The Bible does not agree with such a thing and therefore it is evil; if we give prisoners condoms, are we are now saying they are free?”
The newspaper reported that he said that if he had the power, he would have gay people killed.
President Mugabe once stated that gay people were “worse than pigs and dogs” and has resisted efforts to include gay rights protections in Zimbabwe’s new constitution.
Speaking to Associated Press this week, Mr Moatlhodi defended his remarks and said homosexuality was “a culture away from our culture”.
The meeting also heard from a prison inmate who said that while some prisoners turn to same-sex relationships for comfort and intimacy, others were gay.
The unnamed inmate said: “The gay lifestyle is not ‘sick’, ‘nasty’, ‘perverted’, or ‘gross’ as some people say disparagingly; it is simply two people showing love for one another, and it shouldn’t be confused with horny men in prison who are looking for the first thing that comes along.
“While we all have different views and opinions, please remember that we should not offend those who are different from us.”


Anti-Gay Testimony Backfires, Garners Same-Sex Families A New Supporter in MD

James Brochin
James Brochin

By Kilian Melloy -
A former foe of marriage equality has had a Road to Damascus moment and become a family parity supporter, thanks to the vilification of gays that anti-equality advocates expressed during a Feb. 8 hearing on a bill that would extend full legal equality to Maryland’s same-sex families.

State Sen. James Brochin characterized the testimony he and other members of a senate committee heard from the anti-gay side as "hate and venom." The lawmaker added that he was "appalled and disgusted" by the way that gays and lesbians and their families were derided during the course of seven hours of public testimony on the bill, reported a Feb. 10 Examiner article.

The claims made about GLBTs during the hearing were part and parcel of the standard anti-gay rhetoric, but in this case it backfired. Brochin had formerly been opposed to granting Maryland’s gay and lesbian families equal state-level marriage rights, but, he told The Advocate, the scales fell from his eyes as he heard how GLBTs were described by those who came to testify against them.

"What I witnessed from the opponents of the bill was appalling," Brochin recounted. "Witness after witness demonized homosexuals, vilified the gay community, and described gays and lesbians as pedophiles.

"I believe that sexual orientation is not a choice, but rather people are born one way or another," Brochin continued. "The proponents of the [marriage equality] bill were straightforward in wanting to be simply treated as everyone else, and wanted to stop being treated as second-class citizens."

Public acceptance of gays--and support for their quest to secure family rights in the form of legally recognized unions--continues to increase as gays emerge from the closet and the heterosexual majority realizes that GLBTs are their own relatives, friends, and colleagues. As the aura of strangeness that anti-gay propaganda once cloaked GLBTs in fades, the normalcy of gay individuals, and gay family life, becomes more evident.

That is a fact not lost even on those among Maryland’s lawmakers who remain opposed to family parity for gays and lesbians. Senate President Thomas "Mike" Miller--who does not support marriage equality himself--predicted that the measure would clear the chamber. Miller also pointed to recent gains made by GLBT Americans, including a Congressional vote late last year to rescind the ban on openly gay and lesbian patriots serving in the Armed Forces. "This is a national trend, this is not a state of Maryland trend," said Miller, who also reckoned that the question is "a generational issue." Younger voters tend to favor GLBT legal and social equality.

"For me, the transition to supporting marriage has not been an easy one, but the uncertainty, fear, and second-class status that gays and lesbians have to put up with is far worse and clearly must come to an end," Brochin told The Advocate.

Maryland lawmakers have considered such legislation before, though to no avail, as an earlier EDGE article reported. The bill currently before the Senate committee is co-sponsored by openly gay Sen. Rich Madaleno.

Opposition to the bill mostly came from religious organizations, including the Alliance Defense Fund, an anti-gay, faith-based group. A lawyer with the ADF, Austin R. Nimocks, testified that the bill does not offer enough protections to churches and clergy who oppose gay and lesbian families due to their beliefs.

Nimocks also suggested that granting legal parity to gay and lesbian families would harm children, saying, "The state of Maryland increases the chances that children will be raised in a stable family unit by a mother and father responsible for bringing them into this world" under existing law, which currently denies protections and rights to same-sex families.

Anti-gay group the National Organization for Marriage, which was a key player in the bitterly divisive campaign to pass Proposition 8 in California, also spoke against the measure. The group’s former president (now Board Chair) Maggie Gallagher told the committee, "The reason that marriage is a virtually universal human social institution that reoccurs again and again in different cultures, and different religious backgrounds, is that humanity recognizes that we need a special institution to bring together a male and female to make and raise the next generation." Gallagher went on to claim, "To get to gay marriage requires that we repudiate this as a public purpose of marriage."

If marriage equality is granted to same-sex couples in Maryland, Gallagher told the Associated Press in a Feb. 9 article, she anticipates that a voter referendum will kill the new law, as happened in Maine in 2009, when voters repealed a family parity measure before it could take effect.

But if younger Americans continue to support equality measures for gays and lesbians, the trend might eventually reverse the tidal wave of anti-gay constitutional amendments that have locked same-sex families out of legal wedlock in 30 states. The acid test might be the result of legislative attempts in North Carolina, Indiana, and Wyoming to amend the constitutions of those states such that same-sex families are punished with legal exclusion. NOM is pushing to help anti-gay lawmakers in those states get the amendments before voters, but there is some hope that such measures will eventually start to fail at the ballot box--and may one day even be reversed.

Brochin’s reaction may be an early indication that the cultural currents are starting to shift away from a preconception of gays are somehow abnormal or unnatural, long-ingrained ideas that have made it easy for virulent anti-gay rhetoric to flourish.

Equality advocates saw the seeds of such wider change in Brochin’s personal disgust at how GLBTs were defamed during the public testimony. "Equality Maryland is proud of Sen. Brochin’s declaration of support of civil marriage for gay and lesbian couples," said Morgan Meneses-Sheets, who heads the group. "His recent change of heart proves that when people have the facts, and hear the real life stories from loving and committed couples, hearts and minds can and do change.

"We welcome Sen. Brochin to the growing coalition of elected officials from both sides of the aisle who have come to understand that ensuring equal treatment under the law is good public policy." Added Meneses-Sheets, "There is no substitute for equality--and only civil marriage can confer the respect, protection and responsibility to same-sex couples in the same manner that it is conferred to opposite-sex couples."

The Maryland Catholic Conference’s Mary Ellen Russell told the media that the vilification of gays the State Senate committee heard was "unfortunate," reported the Baltimore Sun in a Feb. 10 article. "They do not speak for the majority of us," Russell said of those who offered the vitriolic testimony that offended Brochin.

The Catholic Church teaches that gays and lesbians do not "choose" to be sexually and romantically attracted to individuals of the same gender, and says that sexual minorities need to be treated with respect and dignity. However, the Church also holds that gays and lesbians do not have a right to form families of their own, and teaches that God expects them to lead celibate lives. The Church has also asserted that gays are "disordered" individuals whose sexual expressions of affection for others of the same sex are "inherently evil."

Brochin initially had hoped to replace the marriage equality bill with a civil unions bill, the Baltimore Sun reported, but the committee’s members do not support that. Brochin will therefore support full state-level marriage rights. (Federal rights remain out of reach for America’s gay and lesbian family due to an anti-gay 1996 federal law, the "Defense of Marriage" Act.) "I’m not going to be a part of the vilification of gays on the senate floor" by voting against the marriage bill, Brochin said.

"I’ve always thought that everyone should have the same rights," the state senator added.

Kilian Melloy reviews media, conducts interviews, and writes commentary for EDGEBoston, where he also serves as Assistant Arts Editor.


Wendie Malick vs. Susan Lucci

Fans of Hot in Cleveland remember season one’s finale in which Victoria Chase (Wendie Malick) finally won her long-overdue daytime Emmy, only to have it accepted in person by her arch nemesis, Susan Lucci.

Now, the two will face off in a crossover event. On February 16 and 23, Lucci and a few of her All My Children costars will appear hot in Cleveland to make Malick’s character’s life a living hell.

Then, on February 24, Victoria Chase books a gig on All My Children — appearing as Erica Kane’s maid.
Both actresses are major gay rights supporters. Malick just posed for the NoH8 campaign with her Cleveland costars Jane Leeves and Valerie Bertinelli, while Lucci told Oprah in an appearance on the talk show host's show last week that Erica Kane's daughter's coming out storyline on All My Children were the most important episodes she'd ever worked on.
The two actresses sat down with Advocate contributor Michael Fairman to discuss the crossover event, what the two really think of each other and why their fictional rivalry will never grow old.

Susan Lucci & Wendie Malick Interview from Michael Fairman on Vimeo.


Friday, February 11, 2011

The Bad Old Days

CBS Reports: The Homosexuals. It’s a show about actual victims. And no, it’s not new. It’s old. Like 1967 old.


Injustice at Every Turn -- Part III: Health Care

--By Robyn

Scarlet Letter
This is the fourth in a series. The first two parts of my review of the report Injustice at Every Turn (pdf) were Who we are -- by the numbers, Part I: Education, and Part II: Employment. Today we move on to health care.

Access to health care is a fundamental human right that is regularly denied to transgender and gender non-conforming people.

Transgender and gender non-conforming people frequently experience discrimination when accessing health care, from disrespect and harassment to violence and outright denial of service. Participants in our study reported barriers to care whether seeking preventive medicine, routine and emergency care, or transgender-related services. These realities, combined with widespread provider ignorance about the health needs of transgender and gender non-conforming people, deter them from seeking and receiving quality health care.

‘Gay hatred is everywhere in Uganda’

By Jessica Geen  -

Scott Mills in Uganda
The situation for gay people in Uganda was far worse than he expected, Scott Mills says.
Speaking to about an upcoming documentary, the gay Radio 1 presenter told how he feared for his own safety in the country.
Mills met anti-gay MP David Bahati as part of filming for ‘The World’s Worst Place to be Gay?’.
When the presenter said he was gay, Bahati became enraged and the film crew fled.
Later, they heard that Bahati had sent armed police to a hotel he thought they were staying at.
“I was really frightened,” Mills said. “It’s just something that you wouldn’t think would happen. It was a real shock to the system and we were told to lie low.”
He said: “I wasn’t aware before I went about what was going on in Uganda.
“I met gay people in safe houses because they had to flee their homes. The newspapers print their names, their photos, even what car they drive. These people are just hounded.
“It’s so bizarre that somewhere just seven hours away by plane can be so different.”
During filming, Mills met victims of homophobia and the pastors preaching against homosexuality.
“All the gay people we met had a story about how they had been tormented or attacked,” he said.
“There was a guy we saw in hospital, he had AIDS and was very ill. But because they knew he was gay, he wasn’t getting the right treatment. He’s dead now.
“Then there was a girl called Stosh, who had to go into hiding after her face was plastered across the newspapers.
“It’s all very well reading about these things but when you actually go to Uganda, you realise how bad things are. It was a lot worse than I expected.”
Gay people in Uganda have “an air of optimism”, he said. “But they’re faced with every pastor, every teacher in every school, saying the same thing.
“They think things will change but it’s going to take a long time.”
When asked how attitudes could change, Mills said: “I don’t really know. The West has been quite vocal and President Obama publicly denounced Uganda but [the preachers] still say homosexuality is un-African, that it is against the family.
“They think it was brought in by the West.”
Many of those he met had been accused of “promoting” homosexuality and “recruiting” children.
He said: “The pastors claim that gay people go into schools and offer children money but when you talk to the schools, they say it hasn’t happened. There’s no evidence for it.”
The film crew also saw first-hand the influence Western preachers have on anti-gay sentiment in Uganda.
“It’s all wrapped up in Christianity and evangelicalism,” Mills said. “And Americans come over to preach. We went to a sermon and saw a guy from Atlanta preaching gay hate.”
He added: “I went to Uganda with the aim of making a fair and balanced film but in two weeks, we couldn’t find any [non-gay] person saying that homosexuality was okay.”
‘The World’s Worst Place to be Gay?’ will be shown on BBC Three at 9pm on Monday February 14th.


Harvard Law Review Elects First Openly Gay President


Second-year student Mitchell Reich was elected the 125th president of the Harvard Law Review.
Mitchell Reich, a second year at Harvard Law School, was elected the first openly gay president of the Harvard Law Review. Reich, a Yale College and Dalton School graduate and Manhattan native, is the 125th president of the esteemed publication.

Reich says that being gay is a non-issue for the Harvard Law Review community, but that he recognizes the significance of the election. He says that while he was in high school, before coming out of the closet, he found it hard to picture achieving his dreams and be gay at the same time.
“If I had seen someone who was the president of the Harvard Law Review and [also] openly gay, that would have been helpful to me,” Reich says.
Ryan C. Reich, Mitchell’s older brother and a sixth year graduate student pursuing a Ph.D in the math department at the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, said that while his brother is certainly an advocate for gay rights, his sexual orientation is “not a cause” for the second year law student.
“I don’t think it affects his approach to work or his legal mind,” says Reich. “He does certainly have a certain affinity for gay rights issues ... but I think, first, that this is part of a larger affinity for liberal thought.”

The office of the president of the Harvard Law Review is not as grandiose as the elite status of the title might suggest. On the third floor of the Georgian-style Gannett House—up two flights of steep, winding stairs covered in faded grey carpet—the office is barely more than an alcove, away from the bustle of activity in the common quarters. Red volumes of past issues are stacked around the room, and a few posters and phone numbers are tacked onto the wall around the desk. The only noise is the ticking of the black clock hung on the wall to the left of the desk.
One week into his tenure as president, Reich has yet to make the coveted office his own. He says he might as well—mentioning he plans to put up pictures, including one of his baby half-sister Haley—considering the amount of time he will spend in the room. Every day in the past week, he has arrived at Gannett between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. and left no earlier than 10 p.m., leaving for pockets of time to attend class.
As president, Reich will play the role of the editor-in-chief—overseeing the publication of both in-house and scholarly articles in the review—and of managing the staff and external relations. He says that, as president, he intends to continue the expansion of the web edition of the law review, transforming the web version into a valuable tool for scholars and an online mecca for scholarly discourse and debate. Reich also says he wants to be more conscientious about the length of legal articles—keeping articles at around 25,000 and below 30,000 words. But above all, Reich says he wanted to continue to produce a first-rate publication.
“My predecessor and the class before is a tough act to follow,” Reich says, going on to explain that he hoped to keep the tradition of excellence alive in the eight issues he would oversee as president.

Family and friends note that Reich’s election as president is a reflection of another tradition of excellence—his own. Reich has been articulate, passionate, and an exemplary leader since an early age, they say.
“When Mitch was in Kindergarten, he was writing books,” says his mother, Diane Cohen, referring to short picture books with plots and drawings her son started making from age three. “His teacher excused him from naptime, saying he was an author and had more important things to do than nap.”
Reich was student body president his senior year at Dalton, and has worked for the gubernatorial and presidential campaigns of Eliot L. Spitzer and Barack Obama respectively, in addition to interning with New York Senator Charles E. Schumer.
Reich’s college roommates of four years Brent Lowry said that Reich’s election was exciting news, but not at all surprising.
“Mitch is absolutely accessible, engaging, and knows how to challenge you on an intellectual level,” says Lowry.


Gay sex criminal records will NOT be ‘deleted’, UK campaigners say

By Jessica Geen -

Gay men convicted of historic consensual sex offences will not be able to “delete” them from their records, campaigners say.
The government today announced the full details of the Protection of Freedoms Bill, which includes the law change.
But critics said that men should be aware that “deleting” records does not actually mean they will be removed from records.
Last year, prime minister David Cameron promised that the government would “wipe the slate clean” for men convicted of such offences before gay sex was legalised.
The decriminalisation law was not applied retroactively and currently, such convictions are still visible on criminal records and show up during CRB checks.
Today’s bill says that gay men will be able to apply to the Secretary of State for cautions or convictions to be treated as discarded.
However, the convictions will actually remain on criminal records.
The bill clarifies that “deletion” of records means that “the fact that it is a disregarded conviction or caution” will be recorded alongside the offence.
Sexual rights activist Jane Fae told “Only in the language of civil servants and bureaucrats does this mean ‘deletion’.
“In practice, conviction details will remain on police databases, for police officers to review and, as a landmark court case ruled last year, open for use when considering a suspect’s status where they deem such use to be justified.
“If this is the best that government can do, they need to think again.”
Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell accused the government with being “economical about the truth” over the plans.
He told “The proposed law will not actually delete convictions – it merely instructs the police and other agencies to disregard them.
“A person’s conviction will still remain in their criminal record. This is not a satisfactory solution at all.
“The government is being economical with the truth when it says that convictions will be deleted.”
Andrew Gilliver, of the Lesbian and Gay Foundation, welcomed the new provisions but said that men must be aware that the convictions will not be changed automatically.
“People will have to apply to have their convictions removed,” he said. “This really is the most important thing and they must be aware that it won’t just happen.”
The original announcement by Mr Cameron followed a question submitted by a reader in a questions and answer session with the Conservative leader published in April.
Mr Cameron wrote for “We will change the law so that any past convictions for consensual homosexual sexual activities, which have since become lawful, will be treated as spent, and will not be disclosed on a criminal record check when applying for a job. This is a question of justice – and it’s right that we should change the law and wipe the slate clean.”


National Organization for Marriage says Massachusetts public schools teach kindergartners about gay marriage

"Massachusetts public schools teach kids as young as kindergartners about gay marriage."

National Organization for Marriage on Saturday, February 5th, 2011 in a mailing to Rhode Island voters

The Truth-O-Meter Says:

In early January, just days after Lincoln Chafee replaced Donald Carcieri as governor of Rhode Island, advocates on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate ramped up their annual battle.

This year, the fight is taking on new intensity because, while Carcieri vowed for eight years to veto any bill to legalize gay marriage, Chafee supports it.

Recently, a leading opponent, the National Organization for Marriage, mailed brochures throughout the state that included the headline: "Imposing same-sex marriage has consequences." The brochure listed four "real consequences" of "redefining marriage to a genderless institution."

We chose to examine one of the claims: "Massachusetts’ public schools teach kids as young as kindergartners about gay marriage. Parents have no legal right to object!"

We contacted Christopher C. Plante, executive director of the Rhode Island chapter of NOM, who told us that many schools in Massachusetts -- where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2004 -- have books on the subject in their libraries.The "poster child," he said, is a picture book called  "King & King,"  by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland.

The book tells the story of a queen who decided it was time for her son, the prince, to marry. He rejects every princess she offers. Finally the last candidate enters, and the prince feels "a stir in his heart." But it was for the princess’s brother, Prince Lee.

The two marry, and the book says "everyone lives happily ever after." On the last page, the two princes kiss, with a red heart covering their mouths.

The book "glorifies the idea that it’s perfectly OK to have same-sex marriage," said Plante. And he said the courts have ruled that the educational system has a duty to "normalize" same-sex marriage for grades as low as kindergarten.

Asked for examples of where the book is taught to kindergartners, Plante offered just one location, Lexington, Mass., where it became an issue in 2006.

That year, two couples -- David and Tonia Parker and Robert and Robin Wirthlin -- filed a federal lawsuit against Lexington school officials. The suit alleged that the Parkers’ son was given a book in kindergarten that depicts various forms of families, including one with parents of the same gender. And, the suit said, when the Wirthlins’ son was in first grade, he was read another book,  "King & King," in school.

The parents said they have religious beliefs that homosexuality is immoral and that marriage is  a holy union only of a man and a woman. They alleged school officials were attempting to indoctrinate their children with the belief that same sex marriages are moral.

In 2007, The U.S. District Court in Massachusetts dismissed the parents’ claims, finding that parents don’t have the right to restrict what a public school may teach their children, even if the teachings contradict the parents’ religious beliefs.

The parents appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit but lost. The appeals court wrote: "There is no allegation here of a formalized curriculum requiring students to read many books affirming gay marriage. The reading by a teacher of one book, or even three, and even if to a young and impressionable child, does not constitute "indoctrination."

Asked for any other examples of gay marriage being taught to kindergartners, Plante referred us to Kris Mineau, executive director of the Massachusetts Family Institute, which describes itself as "dedicated to strengthening the family and affirming the Judeo-Christian values upon which it is based."

Mineau said he has been fighting same-sex marriage advocates for eight years and he is certain their message is being spread in schools throughout Massachusetts.

But he acknowledged he could not cite any examples other than Lexington. "I don’t have documentation of everything going on," Mineau said. "It’s very difficult to quantify."

Mineau also said the 2007 court rulings discouraged other parents from officially complaining about their children being exposed to school programs endorsing same-sex marriage.

We looked for other evidence that Massachusetts schools are teaching kindergartners about same-sex marriage.

We asked Jonathan Considine, spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, if the state mandated curriculum on same-sex marriage for kindergartners. The answer is no, he said. Massachusetts is a local control state, so each district decides on what topics to cover.

He said, "Massachusetts does not require that students in any grade be taught about gay marriage."

He said many schools have used books or promoted discussions to teach tolerance because some students have same-sex parents and there are teachers with same-sex spouses.

Considine referred us to The Massachusetts Comprehensive Health Curriculum, which includes a standard that by fifth grade, students should be able to define sexual orientation, such as heterosexual, gay and lesbian. It makes no recommendations about teaching different types of marriages to kindergartners.

Then we called the Massachusetts Teachers Association, which represents 107,000 educators.

Laura Bennett, a spokeswoman for the association, said she does not know whether anyone is discussing same-sex marriages with kindergartners in any of the state’s hundreds of school districts.  But she is relatively certain no one else has publicly complained.

"I work on communications with teachers, and if there were other cases, I would have heard," she said. "There’s just that one case, over and over again."

"I haven’t heard boo about this," added Thomas Gosnell, president of the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts, which represents most of the other educators in the state. "I have not heard one of my members tell me they are talking about gay marriage in kindergarten. They are probably not talking about any kind of marriage in that grade.

"I don’t even hear anyone talking about gay marriage anymore," he added. "It’s just there."

Bottom line: The National Organization for Marriage mailing says that Massachusetts public schools teach kindergartners about gay marriage. The wording, including the present tense verb, gives the impression this is happening now, in many schools.

But the group’s only evidence is two incidents five years ago. It’s possible that somewhere, in one of the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts, other kindergartners have been taught about same-sex marriage. But NOM couldn’t cite any other examples. We find its statement False.


Lady Gaga debuts ‘gay anthem’ Born This Way

The track, hailed as “the new gay anthem” by Elton John, was due to be released on Sunday but Gaga said this week that she couldn’t wait any longer to premiere it.
Lyrics include: “No matter gay, straight, or bi/ Lesbian, transgendered life/ I’m on the right track, baby” and “Don’t be a drag, just be a queen.”
The single is the first on a new album of the same name.
Gaga told Vogue: “I wrote [Born This Way] in 10 f**king minutes.
“And it is a completely magical message song. And after I wrote it, the gates just opened, and the songs kept coming. It was like an immaculate conception.”
Gay blogger Perez Hilton told It is a very gay song — unapologetically, gay-in-your-face gay — but it’s also a universal song that can relate to everyone.
“To all of us outsiders, to all of us freaks, to all of us who feel different. And the music is undeniable. It sounds like a smash. It is a smash. It is one of the best songs of Gaga’s career.”


BERMUDA'S GOVERNMENT - about to table a bill to outlaw same-sex discrimination - PLEASE HELP!

Targeting: The President of the United States, The U.S. Senate, and The U.S. House of Representatives
Started by: Paul Luftenegger
Bermuda MPs are about to vote on whether to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

According to a Government status report marking the first 100 days of Premier Paula Cox’s administration, changes to the Human Rights legislation will be tabled this parliamentary session.

The report, ‘Resetting the Dial’, outlines the progress made by Government since November 1 as well as future initiatives.

It states Government will be: “Developing policy changes which will see amendments on the Human Rights legislation including introduction of unreasonable hardship rules and provisions to enable the Minister to make regulations regarding discrimination on the basis of age or sexual orientation will be tabled in the Parliament during the second term.”

MPs were last asked to vote on the issue in 2006 when former PLP MP Renee Webb tabled a private member’s bill it failed after MPs gave it the silent treatment.

There was a pledge in the 2009 Throne Speech to change the Act “to ensure that no person is discriminated against in Bermuda” but an amendment has not been tabled since then.\
This article was taken from the Bermuda Royal Gazette and the full story can be found at the following wesite address:
By Ruth O’Kelly-Lynch Published Feb 8, 2011 at 9:34 am (Updated Feb 8, 2011)
Equal rights campaigner and former MP Renee Webb said she is pleased Government is going to amend the Human Rights Act to include sexual orientation.

Last week Government released a booklet, ‘Resetting the Dial’, to mark the first 100 days of Premier Paula Cox’s administration.

In it Government outlined the progress they have made since November 1, 2010 and announced some of the initiatives they will undertake in the future.

The report states Government will be: “Developing policy changes which will see amendments on the Human Rights legislation including introduction of unreasonable hardship rules and provisions to enable the Minister to make regulations regarding discrimination on the basis of age or sexual orientation will be tabled in the Parliament during the second term.”

Yesterday Ms Webb said: “I am extremely pleased that the Government and hopefully the Opposition have seen that all human beings are created equal and that amending the legislation to include sexual orientation is the right thing to do.

“Nobody should be discriminated against.”

The last time MPs were asked to vote on the issue, in 2006 when Ms Webb tabled a private member’s bill, it failed after MPs gave it the ‘silent treatment’. There was a pledge in the 2009 Throne Speech to change the Act “to ensure that no person is discriminated against in Bermuda” but an amendment has not been tabled.

She said she believed MPs would find it easier this time around to amend the legislation.

“I think the educational campaign that Two Words and a Comma did in 2006 and after was a big help,” she said. “I was one of the founders of the group along with Suzanne Mayall and Ayo Johnson. We met with MPs, they got to hear real life stories of discrimination. I hope that the MPs will have the courage this time to do the right thing, doing the right thing doesn’t take courage.

“I think the Two Words and a Comma advertisements, which showed Bermudians standing up for equal rights, put a face to the issues.

“I think Bermuda has grown up since then and people realise discrimination and repression is not acceptable.

“It has been a long time coming. I think the Premier should be commended for moving forward with this.” 

Help Bermuda's Government Know The World is Watching How They Vote On This Bill To Outlaw Same-Sex Discrimination

Please help Bermuda's Government and MP's know that the world is watching how they vote on the bill that would protect same-sex individuals against discrimination. This is a monumental moment for Bermuda. Please hear the LGBT community cry for support.

I am a gay Canadian married to a gay Bermudian who has lived with discrimination in Bermuda for decades. We face countless hardships because we have no rights under the law as a couple. This is critical to our ability to live in Bermuda. We would love to have our own family one day and our dream will only be made possible by a vote to protect our human rights under the law.

This bill will save our families future. Please assist us by signing our petition to let the Bermuda Government know the world is watching this with full support.

Wishing you Peace, Love, Joy, Happiness, Prosperity, and Human Rights Protection For All...


A Gay Canadian and Gay Bermudian In Need of Support...
[Your name]

Petitions by|Start a Petition »


LGBT: We Can Play Cops

By David Mixner -

"Don't even move scumbag! Bite the dirt with hands out". Come on my friends, you can be an open member of the LGBT community and say that. 
There is no question that over the years the LGBT community has made great progress with the mass media. We have this season major characters on such shows as "Glee" and "Modern Family." Other shows have included the LGBT community in major roles as positive role models to the next generation. There is one striking omission and that the media doesn't believe we can be 'out cops' as a recurring role.
Think about it.
In the entire "CSI" franchise history not one member of the "teams" is openly gay? In all the various incarnations of "Law and Order" we never got a cop. The tough crew in "Criminal Minds" has nary an LGBT member on their team. Evidently there are no LGBT citizens in Hawaii according to "Hawaii Five-O." You would think a writer like "Castle" would make room for us. After all, we are great readers. My God, "The Mentalist" should understand how spiritual our community can be and put us in as a supportive sidekick. Take a gander at "The Closer," "Memphis Beat," "White Collar," "Harry's Law" and so many others and there are no major LGBT characters in a recurring role. Now "Southland" has a gay cop but his pill addiction far and away overshadows his dark and hidden sexuality.
Time to break down this barrier. LGBT characters know how to work in a forensics lab. We know how to be tough and break down a suspect. Count on us to run faster and draw quicker in pursuit of the bad criminals. Time for crime dramas to open up and include us on the 'team.'

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


True LGBT Stories - I'm From Houston, TX. Is a compilation of true stories by gay people from all over in an attempt to help LGBTQ teens feel not so alone. Please pass the link along to anyone who might benefit from, contribute to, or simply enjoy the site, stories and videos. Thanks!


Morehead State's Kenneth Faried adapts and thrives

By Dana O'Neil -

MOREHEAD, Ky. -- Elizabeth Avenue, in the shadow of downtown Newark, N.J., is a typically busy and built-up thoroughfare in the Northeast. Cluttered with fast-food joints, check-cashing stops and traffic lights, it seems especially claustrophobic on this February morning.

Senior Kenneth Faried has helped put Morehead State's basketball program on the map.
A winter storm has dumped a slushy freezing rain on the city, on top of the near foot of snow that already covered the ground. Cars are parked diagonally, catty-cornered and just about every which way they can if it means landing an on-street spot.
Outside of the high-rise apartment complexes that fill the sky where the road runs slightly uphill, people are walking down the street instead of on the still icy sidewalks, making maneuvering around Elizabeth Avenue even trickier.
This is what Kenneth Faried knows. For better or worse -- and there has been more worse than better in this portion of urban blight -- this is home.
Or rather it had been home until four years ago, until basketball dumped Faried in an Eastern Kentucky outpost where an African-American kid with a huge smile and long dreadlocks might as well have been a Martian.
"I can tell you what my reaction was exactly," Faried said, recalling his first drive to Morehead State University. "We drove in from the airport -- and I still have no idea where that airport is -- and I said, 'Where are all the tall buildings? Where are the skyscrapers? Where's the mall?' Coach just looked at me and said, 'Son, this is Morehead, Ky. We don't have tall buildings. We have tall mountains."
Yet in a land as foreign to him as Belize, Faried has thrived. He has 1,520 career rebounds, only the fourth player in the past 35 seasons to reach 1,500 and now just 50 boards shy of surpassing Tim Duncan's record for that time period.
Three times this season, he has enjoyed a 20-20 night. And in three of Morehead's past six games, he's pulled down 20 rebounds.
NBA scouts have become regulars in the throwback Ellis T. Johnson Arena, all winding and finding their way through the Appalachian hills to Morehead in order to see the player often compared to Dennis Rodman.
It is not just the court where Faried has found success. He is a wildly popular player and an equally popular student, a kid who has found a way to both stand out and fit in.
"Kenneth is a chameleon and I mean that in a good way," said MSU coach Donnie Tyndall, whose Eagles (17-8, 9-4 OVC) sit one game back of Murray State in the Ohio Valley. "He can be in a conversation with a businessman, a little kid, a retired person, a janitor and people love him. He has that smile, that wit and that charm, and people know it's genuine. He has an unbelievable ability to adapt."
He's had good practice.
Life didn't deal Kenneth Faried a conventional hand. His father lives in a rough part of Jersey City, his mother in an equally rough part of Newark.
Before he was born, his grandmother died from complications of lupus and since he was in the fourth grade, his mother, Waudda (pronounced Wa-dee-uh), has battled the crippling disease that attacks the body without discretion.
And then 10 years ago, his mother introduced Faried to Manasin Copeland, the woman that would become her wife.
"I think people have an aura about them and the first time I met her, I thought, 'I like this lady," Faried said. "And when they got married, that showed me what commitment is all about, that there are people out there that can commit, even though for them it really has been the worst of times. I look at them, what they've been through and I think, 'Wow. That's amazing.' They're amazing to me."

Boston Herald’s Bob Kraft article draws homophobic web comments

By Hannah Clay Wareham -

A recent Boston Herald article announcing that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft will be keynote speaker at an LGBT networking event hosted by Boston Spirit Magazine attracted a slew of unsolicited homophobic comments online.

While several comments were deleted by the Herald, citing that their content did not follow the website’s posting guidelines, remaining remarks include, "Unreal get right with God, this country is going to S--t. God help us!"; "Isn’t that wonderful, more lip service to all the freaks of our diverse society. Makes you want to throw up in your mouth"; "Tight Ends and Wide recievers will be on hand to answer questions after the symposium"; and "die in a fire" [sic].

"It’s unfortunate that some people in society still feel the need to preach such hatred, whether it is homophobia, racism, or any other type of bigotry or discrimination," said Boston Spirit Magazine publisher David Zimmerman. "However, the fact remains that the people who chose to post negative comments on the Boston Herald website represent a very small portion of the Herald’s readers and an even smaller portion of Massachusetts citizens.

"In a conversation I had recently with Steve Buckley, the Herald sports columnist who recently came out, he told me that he has received nearly 3,000 emails and ’99.99% of them were positive and supportive.’ To me, that speaks much louder than the 40 to 50 morons commenting on the Herald website."

Read the full Herald article below.
New England Patriots [team stats] pooh-bah Robert Kraft will be the keynote speaker at a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender networking session — which, according to the organizer, is the first time the owner of one of the city’s premiere sports teams will headline a major event for gays.
“It’s groundbreaking, absolutely groundbreaking,” said David Zimmerman, whose Boston Spirit maggie is putting on the fourth annual LGBT Executive Networking Night later this month. “Once again the New England Patriots [team stats] and its ownership are leading the way in professional sports.”
Zimmerman said he lobbied Kraft to accept the invite by appealing to the Pats owner’s “good business sense” and trailblazing nature.
“I’ve always seen the Patriots as being pretty open-minded,” he said.
But the pigskin czar doesn’t consider his participation in the session as particularly groundbreaking. When asked why he decided to do it, Kraft replied “Why wouldn’t I?”
Patriots spokesman Stacey James said the owner gets scores of invitations to speak every year and “probably declines more than he accepts.” But James said the organizers of the LGBT event were flexible and could work around Kraft’s schedule.
Zimmerman said he is expecting more than 1,000 business professionals at the event, which is sponsored by heavy-hitting corporate types such as U.S. Trust, Fidelity, TD Bank, Eastern Bank and Blue Cross Blue Shield.
“I expect that he will talk a little bit about the current business climate and the economy,” said Zimmerman. “And maybe about the social barrier that exists between professional sports and the gay community, and we’ll see where that goes.”
The Feb. 23 event at the Boston Marriott Copley Place is open to the public, but you must RSVP in advance at Do tell ‘em the Track sent you!


Shocking Ignorance Characterizes Some Lawmakers’ Views on Gays

Chris Buttars
Chris Buttars 

By Kilian Melloy -

In a healthy democracy, room for debate is part and parcel of public discourse. Such debate might include strong language, rhetorical flourish, and even the personal views of its participants, such as religious faith or an individual’s sense of aesthetics. But debate is only useful to the extent that it is relevant and informed.

When it comes to gays and lesbians, however, America’s lawmakers routinely demonstrate a profound and even shocking lack of factual knowledge. In some cases, the anti-gay claims put forward by the people in charge of formulating the nation’s laws rely on stereotype and myth; in others, the opinions of lawmakers seem to have been formed according to shallow conceptions of the people whose lives are impacted by discriminatory laws.

Legislators such as Sally Kerns, a Republican state representative from Oklahoma, or Chris Buttars, the notoriously anti-gay former Utah state senator, make headlines with sweeping--albeit erroneous--claims that gays will be the downfall of America because, they assert, gays destroyed ancient civilizations.

Such claims are widespread among the anti-gay right. Which civilizations, exactly, supposedly fell due to the gays was left vague by Kerns and Buttars, but if they meant the Greeks, a more historically accurate view is that the Romans precipitated the downfall of ancient Greece by conquering the various city-states we now often mistakenly view as a single, unified Greek nation. If they are referring to the Romans--the ancient civilization most frequently likened to modern America--the more scholarly theory is that a host of other problems, mostly economic but also including the rise of the early Christian church, had far more to do with Rome’s decline than did homosexuals. (Edward Gibbon, for one, subscribed in his monumental work History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire to the view that the early church contributed to the ancient Empire’s destruction.)

Others, whether through rhetorical strategy or because they cannot conceive of gays as fully rounded human beings with deep and meaningful personal relationships, reduce same-sex male unions to a single sexual act. (The fact that many heterosexuals indulge in the same conduct is routinely glossed over.) New Hampshire State Rep. Nancy Elliott infamously described male-male relationships as little more than a matter of anal sex--which Elliott characterized as "taking the penis of one man and putting it into the rectum of another man and wiggling it around in excrement" during debate on a bill that would have rescinded marriage rights for gay and lesbian families in that state. (The bill failed, but a fresh push to yank existing marriage rights from same-sex families is now afoot in that state.)

Then there are those lawmakers who base their perspectives on gays in pseudo-science and wild rumor. Iowa Republican State Rep. Dwayne Alons recently told Think Progress in an interview published on Feb. 9 that gays had "brought a lot of problems to society." Alons pointed to statistics that suggest that gay men live significantly shorter lives.

The problem, as the Iowa Independent noted in a Feb. 9 article, is that "The claim that being a homosexual reduces an individual’s life span has been widely discredited." The so-called studies purporting to show that gay men generally die younger "have been overwhelmingly rejected," an earlier Iowa Independent article reported, "and as critics have repeatedly pointed out, the methods used were extremely flawed. They relied on obituaries published in gay newspapers over a 12-month period and compared them to obituaries from general circulation newspapers.

"Many of the group’s studies were originally published in the journal Psychological Reports, which unlike many scientific journals, charges a fee to authors for publication and does not reject an article on the basis of a negative peer review," the newspaper article continued. Despite the plainly fictitious nature of those statistics, anti-gay groups cite them continually in arguing against social and legal equality for gays and their families.

Moreover, the Independent added, ignorance based on the assumption that gays are diseased leads to less incentives for gays to ensure and maintain their own health: "studies showing gay men with higher rates of STDs, including those done by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also point out that factors such as homophobia and stigma can prevent gay men from seeking prevention, testing, and treatment services," the article noted.

But the problem with such a statement from a state lawmaker is not limited to the statement’s basis in error; the greater liability such views pose is that lawmakers are the individuals entrusted with forging the legal framework of states and of the nation as a whole. In the case of Iowa, gay and lesbian families are facing the very real possibility that anti-gay lawmakers, supported by organizations that work to deny GLBT Americans equality, will eventually succeed in putting their rights up to a vote in the form of a proposed constitutional amendment that would not only strike marriage for same-sex couples, but also deny them any other form of legal recognition, such as civil unions or even domestic partnerships. Alons is a sponsor of the bill that would put the rights of gay and lesbian families in Iowa up to a popular vote.

Moreover, in the fiercely anti-gay climate promoted by some of Iowa’s activists and politicians, the ground is fertile in that state for other discriminatory legislative actions, such as a bill that proposed legalizing discrimination against married couples by churches, religious groups, and small businesses--even secular businesses--if service providers and vendors personally disliked the marriage for religious reasons.

The bill was shot down--by a senior Republican official--but its broad language would have opened a host of potential ramifications for gays and straights alike. Landlords could have thrown gay tenants into the street; hotels could have turned away mixed-race couples; and churches, wedding planners, caterers, and other businesses could have shunned couples of mixed faith. Even couples in which one spouse had divorced an earlier husband or wife could have been targets for legalized discrimination.

Montana lawmaker Janna Taylor told her colleagues in the state House of Representatives on Feb. 8 that HIV+ prison inmates could spread the virus to guards and other corrections and law enforcement personnel simply by making blowguns and shooting blood-smeared spitballs at them. Taylor was arguing for the retention of the death penalty in the state.

"HIV is a very fragile virus that dies within seconds outside the body," noted a Feb. 8 posting at the blog From Eternity to Here. "It is only spread by blood, semen, vaginal fluid and breast milk--and there has to be enough virus to enter the bloodstream--it cannot penetrate healthy skin."

But such wild misconceptions about the virulence of the virus are widespread enough that in a number of states HIV+ persons are essentially criminalized for their status; in some jurisdictions, HIV+ people have been criminally prosecuted for charges such as assault with a deadly weapon simply for allegedly spitting at someone.

Spillover effects from anti-gay myths, propaganda, and laws that impact the general population are not only the province of poorly informed decisions made at the top. Gays and straights alike are affected at the street level by similar patterns of ignorance and prejudice, as when assailants mistake straight victims for gays and beat or kill them.

Kilian Melloy reviews media, conducts interviews, and writes commentary for EDGEBoston, where he also serves as Assistant Arts Editor.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

New APA research on gay and lesbian parents and their children

NORTHAMPTON, MA – Stigma, Social Context, and Mental Health: Lesbian and Gay Couples Across The Transition to Adoptive Parenthood, groundbreaking new research about gay adoptive parents by Dr. Abbie E. Goldberg, has been published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology by the American Psychological Association in February, 2011.

Dr. Goldberg’s new work, co-authored with JuliAnna Z. Smith at The Center for Research on Families at The University of Massachusetts/Amherst, is the first study to examine changes in depression and anxiety across the first year of adoptive parenthood in same-sex couples. Ninety same-sex couples (52 lesbian couples and 38 gay male couples) were studied and profiled at three separate times during their first year of adoptive parenthood.

Dr. Goldberg’s research indicates that, among same-sex couples raising adoptive children during the first year those who lived in states with anti-gay laws and social attitudes had more mental health issues than those who lived in states that provide a more supportive legal and social environment towards gay parenting and parents. In addition, same-sex couples who reported higher perceived workplace support, higher family support and more gay-friendly neighborhoods reported better mental health than those who reported poor workplace, family, and neighborhood support.

The full article, Stigma, Social Context, and Mental Health: Lesbian and Gay Couples Across The Transition to Adoptive Parenthood, is available in PDF format on Dr. Goldberg’s website:

Dr. Goldberg’s landmark 2010 book Lesbian and Gay Parents and Their Children: Research on the Family Life Cycle, also published by the American Psychological Association, was the first full-length analysis of the research on gay parenting, summarizing research data on the subject from the 1970’s to the present . That research was consistent in suggesting that the outcomes and well-being of children raised by gay and lesbian parents were no different than those of children raised by heterosexual parents.

Research for Stigma, Social Context, and Mental Health: Lesbian and Gay Couples Across The Transition to Adoptive Parenthood was funded by grants from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development; the Wayne F. Placek award, from the American Psychological Foundation; the Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law; the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues; and the Lesbian Health Fund, awarded by the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association.

Abbie E. Goldberg, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Clark University in Worcester, MA. She received her B.A. in Psychology from Wesleyan University (Connecticut); her Ph.D. in clinical psychology and her M.S. in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Dr. Goldberg also completed a clinical psychology internship at Yale Medical School. Her research has examined the transition to parenthood in diverse families, including lesbian-parent families and adoptive-parent families. In particular, her work has focused on how families’ relationships and identities change across the transition to parenthood, and how gender and sexual orientation figure into individuals’ adjustment and experience of parenthood. In addition, she has also studied the experiences of adults raised by lesbian, gay, and bisexual parents. She has received funding from the American Psychological Association, the National Institutes of Health, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Williams Institute, and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues


Figures show 28% rise in London anti-gay hate attacks

A month after a teenage girl was jailed for the manslaughter of a gay man, new figures have shown a rise in reported anti-gay hate attacks in London.
According to the Evening Standard, reported incidents rose by 28 per cent in the last four years.
The latest figures show 1,545 homophobic incidents reported to police in London last year. Four years ago there were 1,208 homophobic cases.
Dee Doocey, a Liberal Democrat member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, who obtained the figures, told the Standard that the rise could not just be down to better reporting.
She said: “Some of the rise may be down to an increase in reporting of incidents, but I fear this may not be the full explanation.
“It seems only now that we are starting to discover the real numbers of such serious offences.”
Racist attacks also increased from 9,617 four years ago to 10,268 last year.
Last month, 18-year-old Ruby Thomas and 20-year-old Joel Alexander were jailed for seven and six years respectively for killing 62-year-old gay man Ian Baynham as he walked through Trafalgar Square.
Thomas was given a heavier sentence because she had hurled homophobic abuse at Mr Baynham as she kicked him while he lay unconscious on the ground.

Broadcasters Sandi Toksvig and Sue Perkins introduce a two minute silence at London's Trafalgar Square at 9pm on friday 30 October 2009 as thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people and their friends conduct a two minute silence on behalf of those who have died as a result of gay-hate crimes.

After the two minute silence, Sue Perkins reads out the names of those who have died at the hands of homophobes over the last ten years in the UK.

The vigil was organised after the Ian Baynham, a gay man walking through the square recently, was subjected to a gay-hate attack.

The gay vigil took place at 9pm UTC in London's Trafalgar Square on Friday 30th October 2009.


UK government to announce law to expunge gay sex crimes from criminal records

David Cameron announced the move on
The government is to finally announce the full details of the Protection of Freedoms Bill, that will among other issues expunge convictions for now legal consensual gay sex from criminal records. The move, first announced during the general election campaign in an article for by the prime minister David Cameron will end decades of mistreatment by the state of gay men.
It is expected that the full details of the Protection of Freedoms Bill will be announced later today. These will include moves to narrow the scope of the DNA database, introduce restrictions on CCTV cameras and a scaling back on the checks on people working with children.
In 1967, consensual gay sex was decriminalised in England and Wales for males over the age of 21, it took until 1980 for decriminalisation in Scotland and 1982 for decriminalisation in Northern Ireland.
In 1994, the age of consent for gay men was reduced from 21 to 18, and in 2000, it was reduced further to 16, equalising with the age of consent for straight people.
However, these changes in the law were not retrospective, so there are a considerable number of men who are required to disclose that they have a criminal record for a sexual offence, despite the action that they took part in being completely legal now.
These convictions need to be disclosed when applying for certain jobs and even for volunteering in hospitals or with children as they will be listed on a person’s Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) certificate.
The original announcement by Mr Cameron followed a question submitted by a reader in a Questions and Answer session with the Conservative leader published in April. Mr Cameron wrote on “We will change the law so that any past convictions for consensual homosexual sexual activities, which have since become lawful, will be treated as spent, and will not be disclosed on a criminal record check when applying for a job. This is a question of justice – and it’s right that we should change the law and wipe the slate clean.”
Although a rule passed in 2003 does mean that people convicted of now legal consensual sex are no longer listed on the Sex Offenders Register, the conviction remained on any individual’s criminal record. Mr Cameron proposes that an amendment to the Exceptions Order to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act means these convictions will no longer show up on a CRB check by classing them as ‘spent convictions.’
In an article for, Mr Cameron wrote: “I believe heart and soul in equality: the whole idea of prejudice towards people on the basis of their sexuality is quite wrong and that’s why I back civil partnerships, why I told the Tory conference that commitment through marriage was equally valid whether between a man and a woman, a man and a man or a woman and a woman – and it’s why a Conservative government will put new rules in place to tackle homophobia and support gay couples.

“Despite this, I am aware that there will remain some doubters. But have no fear: the Party has changed, the changes we have made are supported by those serving in my team and those changes are lasting. So far as I am concerned, it is one of the touchstone issues that define the modern Conservative Party.”
A review for the Home Office by Sunita Mason at the start of 2010 recommended that there should be a change in the law, but then home secretary Alan Johnson refused to pledge to do so. In a House of Commons statement he wrote: “This is a complex area, but once again I am anxious to ensure that the disclosure process is proportionate and I will be asking officials to look at this further.”
Since the general election, the Labour party have signalled their support for the move.


Boy Scouts of America Would Raise Better Americans By Embracing LGBT Citizens

By Andrew Belonsky -

The Boy Scouts of America yesterday celebrated their 101st birthday, a huge milestone for an influential organization with old roots. Emphasis on old, because, despite great social change, the Scouts continue to discriminate against gay people. It's about time they give themselves a political face lift.
Since its founding in 1910, the Scouts have instructed millions of boys and men on a variety of skills, like low-impact camping and community service. They have also made it their mission to instill their members with archaic, anti-American homophobia. The most famous instance of which came in a Supreme Court battle sparked by the expulsion of Scoutmaster James Dale for being gay.
According to the Scouts' leadership, Dale's sexuality contradicted a variety of their bylaws, particularly those that addressed a "duty to God" and to remain "morally straight," as well an obligation to remain "clean."
"[A]ny persons who advocate to Scouting youth that homosexual conduct is ‘morally straight’ under the Scout Oath, or ‘clean’ under the Scout Law will not be registered as adult leaders," they said in their argument.
Justice John Paul Stevens found this argument to be spurious, writing, "It is plain as the light of day that neither one of these principles–'morally straight' and 'clean'–says the slightest thing about homosexuality. Indeed, neither term in the Boy Scouts’ Law and Oath expresses any position whatsoever on sexual matters."
Still, the Court eventually sided with the Scouts, saying the group remains protected by "freedom of association," and therefore can eject anyone who they feel hinders their "ability to advocate public or private viewpoints." And those viewpoints, according to the Scouts, don't include gay rights.
With a Supreme Court win under their belt, the Scouts were free to continue on their discriminatory way. And they did.
Another high-profile example of the Scouts' tenacious homophobia was in 1998, when they booted long-time leader Dave Rice for founding Scouting for All, an advocacy group that fights for tolerance and acceptance among the Scouts' ranks. And just last year the Scouts told a member's gay father, Jon Langbert, that he could no longer serve in a leadership role.
"We do have a policy that avowed gays and atheists are not allowed to be a registered leader or member of Boy Scouts of America... It's a longstanding policy," said Scout executive Pat Currie at the time.
He continued, "We focus on our mission, and our mission is to take young people and prepare them for an exceptional adulthood." To that, one could obviously argue "exceptional adulthood" includes acceptance of all Americans, particularly considering the Scouts dedication to "patriotic" endeavors: their stated purpose reads, "[We] promote, through organization, and cooperation with other agencies, the ability of boys to do things for themselves and others, to train them in scoutcraft, and to teach them patriotism."
A good patriot, I would argue, does not exclude other members of his or her nation based on their sexuality.
But perhaps trying to define patriotism is too politically charged, and we can glean more from another part of the Scouts' promise: "To help other people at all times." Discriminating against people surely doesn't help. In fact, it hurts: again and again studies show that hateful exclusion has a detrimental impact on people's sense of self-worth, as evidenced by last year's tragic string of gay suicides.
While the Supreme Court's majority may have seen a constitutional rationale in the Scouts patented discrimination, Justice Stevens observed in his dissent that the right of association is "not a freedom to discriminate at will, nor is it a right to maintain an exclusionary membership policy simply out of fear of what the public reaction would be if the group’s membership were opened up." That brings us to the most practical argument for gay inclusion in the Scouts.
As Michael Jones pointed out in the petition asking the Scouts to evolve their policies, there are more gay people with children these days, and in fact more children aware of their homosexuality. As the nation as a whole becomes more accepting of gay people -- an exponential trend, if polls are to be believed -- the Scouts will either have to adapt or find themselves on the wrong side of history. It's that simple.
The Scouts ongoing, and apparently prideful, discrimination of gay people not only contradicts their dedication to educating more responsible, community-oriented citizens, it guarantees them a place in history's dustbin. If they want to live up to their good name, this storied institution will do an about face on gay inclusion and teach their 4.5 million members that being a good American and a good citizen means embracing everyone, regardless of their religion, race, sexuality or any other divisive social aspect.
Join the petition, and tell the Boy Scouts to end their discriminatory politics.

 petition text -
Dear Boy Scouts of America
It's been ten years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Boy Scouts of America could ban openly gay and lesbian people from leadership positions within scouting. Times have changed over these ten years. A number of children have gay and lesbian parents, or gay and lesbian mentors, who would make excellent leaders.

As a recent case in Vermont shows, these potential scout leaders are still excluded from the Boy Scouts. In Vermont, two moms applied to be leaders for their son's scouting troop. They were told they could not do this, solely on the basis of their sexual orientation.

In response to this case, more than 25 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including several who were former Scouts, sent your office a letter, urging you to reconsider your organization's ban on gay and lesbian leaders. In their letter, these representatives said, "We think the Boy Scouts would encourage all parents to take an active involvement in their children's Scouting life." By all parents, that should include gay and lesbian parents, too.

The Boy Scouts are dedicated to fostering among America's youth a sense of responsibility and integrity. But discrimination can't go hand-in-hand with those two concepts. By failing to include all eligible and well-qualified people from scouting, your organization is telling America's children that it's permissible to view people as "others," based solely on their sexual orientation.

Please consider changing this policy. It has been ten years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that your organization could ban gay and lesbian leaders from scouting. Ten years is a long time, and times have changed. There are more children in gay and lesbian parent households than ever before. Shouldn't the Boy Scouts welcome these families?

Thank you for your time.
[Your name]

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