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Saturday, April 2, 2011

"Social Transformation at Harvard" Protest

James Croft spoke at the counter-protest to the "Social Transformation Conference at Harvard", a student organized conference which included speakers from the "Seven Mountains" movement.

The "Seven Mountains" movement are virulently anti-gay and anti-Muslim, and are explicit theocrats. They want to "invade" the government of the United States with their "prayer warriors" and "Elijah Revolutionaries" in order to capture it for God (I kid you not - this REALLY IS what they believe).

To which he, and all assembled at a lively and peaceful counter-protest, say NO!


Writer Jodi Picoult reveals how she felt when her son told her he was gay

By Jodi Picoult -

When bestselling author Jodi Picoult found herself researching the topic of gay rights, a controversial issue in her native United States, the subject matter really hit home when her own son Kyle came out. Here she reveals what her hopes are for him and other homosexual teenagers.

Jodi Picoult
Jodi with her son Kyle and dog Dudley
My first crush was on a boy named Kal Raustiala when I was an eight-year-old in second grade. He had shaggy, leonine hair, a pet iguana and a climbing frame in his basement. Although I didn’t really know why at the time, my heart beat faster near him. When he wasn’t around, I wanted to be with him. And when I was with him, I never wanted to leave. It just sort of happened, in the way that love often does: naturally, instinctually, and wholeheartedly.
After college, I had a friend who, like me, was naturally, instinctually and wholeheartedly attracted to boys. His name was Jeff. My roommate and I spent many Friday nights with Jeff and his partner Darryl, catching the latest movies and dissecting them over dinner afterwards. Jeff was funny, smart and a technological whiz. In fact, the least interesting thing about him was that he happened to be gay.
Gay rights is not something most of us think about – because most of us happen
to have been born straight (at no point before falling hard for Kal did I actively choose to be attracted to the opposite sex). But imagine how you’d feel if you were told that it was unnatural to fall in love with someone of the opposite gender. If you weren’t allowed to get married or adopt a child with your partner. Imagine being a teenager who’s bullied because of your sexual orientation; or being told by your church that you are immoral. In America, where I live, this is the norm for millions of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning) individuals. Only five out of 50 US states [plus Washington DC] conduct same-sex marriages, and only a handful recognise its legality.

Imagine how you’d feel if you were told that it was unnatural to fall in love with someone of the opposite gender  

Those opposed to gay rights often say that they have nothing against the individuals themselves – just their desire to redefine marriage as something other than a partnership between a man and a woman. Meanwhile, same-sex couples and their friends and families argue that they deserve the same rights as heterosexual couples. The result is a country bitterly divided along the fault line of a single contentious issue.
People are always afraid of the unknown – and banding together against the Thing That Is Different From Us is a time-honoured tradition for rallying the masses. I’ve noticed that most people who oppose gay rights don’t have a personal connection to someone who is gay. On the other hand, those who have a gay uncle or a lesbian college professor or a transgendered supermarket cashier are more likely to support gay rights, because the Thing That Is Different From Us has turned out to be, well, pretty normal. Instead of plotting the demise of the traditional family, as some politicians and religious leaders would have you believe, gay people mow their lawns and watch American Idol and video their children’s concerts and have the same hopes and dreams that their straight counterparts do. 
Jodi Picoult featureWhen I started writing Sing You Home, I wanted to create a lesbian character that readers could truly get to know. Zoe Baxter is a woman who – along with her husband Max – has been trying to get pregnant for years. After many failed IVF attempts she finally conceives – only to lose the baby. The tragedy is the final nail in the coffin of her strained marriage, and she and Max divorce. To cope, Zoe throws herself into her career as a music therapist. When Vanessa, a guidance counsellor, asks her to work with a suicidal teenager, their relationship moves from business to friendship and then – to Zoe’s surprise – blossoms into love. As she begins to think of having a family again, she remembers that there are still frozen embryos at the IVF clinic that were never used by her and Max.
Meanwhile, Max has drunk himself into a downward spiral – until he is redeemed by an evangelical church, whose charismatic pastor has vowed to fight the ‘homosexual agenda’ in America. But the mission becomes personal for Max when Zoe and her same-sex partner ask permission to raise his unborn child.
What does it mean to be gay today? How do we define a family? Those are two questions I hoped to answer while writing Sing You Home. I began by speaking to several same-sex couples, who shared their relationships and their sex lives and their struggles. Some of these people knew their sexual orientation in childhood; some – like Zoe – had same-sex relationships after heterosexual ones.
Then I spoke to representatives from a conservative Christian group, Focus on the Family, who oppose gay adoption, and support seminars to ‘cure’ gay people of same-sex attraction. They also back the Defense of Marriage Act, signed by Bill Clinton in 1996 (although President Obama recently stated that he will no longer defend the act), which allows any state to refuse recognition of any same-sex marriage performed in any other state. Like Pastor Clive in my novel, their objection to homosexuality is Biblical. Snippets from Leviticus and other Bible verses form the foundation of their anti-gay platform; although similar literal readings should require these people to abstain from playing football (touching pigskin) or eating scampi (no shellfish). 

I didn’t love Kyle any less because he was gay; I couldn’t love him any more if he weren’t 

Jodi Picoult
Jodi & her husband Tim with their children (from left) Jake, Sammy & Kyle
When I asked them if the Bible needs to be taken in a more historical context, I was told absolutely not – the word of God is the word of God. But when I then asked where in the Bible was a list of appropriate sex practices, I was told it’s not a sex manual – just a guideline.
That circular logic was most heartbreaking when I brought up the topic of hate crimes. Focus on the Family insists that they love the sinner, just not the sin – and only try to help homosexuals who are unhappy being gay. I worried aloud that this message might be misinterpreted by those who commit acts of violence against gays in the name of religion, and the woman I was interviewing burst into tears. ‘Thank goodness,’ she said, ‘that’s never happened.’ I am sure this would be news to the parents of Matthew Shepard, Brandon Teena or Ryan Keith Skipper – just a few of those murdered on account of their sexual orientation – or the FBI, which reports that 17.6 per cent of all hate crimes are motivated by sexual orientation, a number that is steadily rising. And it’s not just in the US: in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Sudan, Mauritania and other parts of Africa, being gay is punishable by death.
Yet as eye-opening as all this research was, something else happened that truly made the subject hit home. My son Kyle, a brilliant, talented teenager, was applying to colleges while I was working on the book. One day, he brought me his finished application to read.
Part of it, an essay, was about being gay.
Did I know that Kyle was gay before he came out in his essay? Well, I’d had my suspicions since he was five. But it was his discovery to make, and to share. I wasn’t surprised, but I was so happy for him – for being brave enough to be true to himself, and to admit that truth to his family. My husband gave him a huge hug. Kyle’s little sister shrugged and said, ‘So?’ And his younger brother still calls to task those who carelessly say, ‘That’s so gay,’ reminding them it’s not a pejorative term.
Learning that Kyle was gay didn’t change the way I felt about him. He was still the same incredible young man he’d been before I read that essay. I didn’t love him any less because he was gay; I couldn’t love him any more if he weren’t. In the aftermath, I saw him blossom, finally comfortable in his own skin, because he wasn’t living a lie any more. Yet, as a mother, I had my worries – not because of Kyle’s sexual orientation, but because the rest of the world might not be as accepting as our family. Because one day, when he least expects it, he’s going to be called a ‘faggot’. Because – simply due to the way his brain is wired – life is going to be more complicated.  

As a mother, I had my worries – not because of Kyle’s sexual orientation, but because the rest of the world might not be as accepting as our family

Kyle is now at Yale University – which has a thriving gay community and a culture of acceptance. His boyfriend is a smart, sweet guy who has accompanied us on holidays and who makes my son incredibly happy. Still, it breaks my heart to know that, unlike Kyle, there are teenagers today who cannot come out to their parents because of deep-seated prejudice – which is too often cloaked in the satin robes of religion. Gay teenagers are four times as likely to attempt suicide as straight ones. I wish they knew that there’s nothing wrong with them; that they are just a different shade of normal.
If I had any one great hope for the book, it would be to open the minds of those who have them closed tightly shut against those who are different – so that, one day, my son’s children will live in a world where being gay does not mean you’re denied rights automatically guaranteed by marriage. I hope they are just as puzzled as I am now when I see old photos of racially segregated schools and water fountains, and I wonder how could it possibly have taken so long for this country to come to its senses?
I hope the religious leaders of their generation focus on the best literal interpretation of their Bible: love your neighbour as yourself. But most of all, I hope that it reminds people that while homosexuality is not a choice, homophobia is. Why not opt for tolerance and kindness instead? 


Health and Human Services: 'LGBT people have been denied the compassionate services they deserve. That is now changing'

By Steve Rothaus -

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Recommended Actions to Improve the Health and Well-Being of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Communities.

   Below is a summary of the efforts taken by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, as well as recommendations for future action. The recommendations were developed in response to the Presidential Memorandum on Hospital Visitation, which, in addition to addressing the rights of patients to designate visitors regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, directed the Secretary to explore additional steps HHS could take to improve the lives of LGBT people.
   For too long, LGBT people have been denied the compassionate services they deserve. That is now changing. HHS continues to make significant progress toward protecting the rights of every American to access quality care, recognizing that diverse populations have distinctive needs. Safeguarding the health and well-being of all Americans requires a commitment to treating all people with respect while being sensitive to their differences.

Summary of Actions
· Equal Employment Opportunity Policy – In March 2011, Secretary Sebelius updated HHS’s equal employment opportunity policy, which already prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation, to explicitly protect against unfair treatment of employees and applicants for employment based on gender identity and genetic information.
· Non-discrimination Policy – On April 1, 2011, the Secretary issued a new policy explicitly requiring HHS employees to serve all individuals who are eligible for the Department’s programs without regard to any non-merit factor, including race, national origin, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability (physical or mental), age, status as a parent, or genetic information.
· Hospital Visitation – The President’s Memorandum on Hospital Visitation directed HHS to initiate rulemaking to ensure that hospitals receiving Medicare or Medicaid payments respect the rights of patients to designate visitors, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other non-clinical factor. On November 17, 2010, HHS issued the final rule affirming those rights.
· Advance Directives – The Presidential Memorandum also called for new guidelines to facilitate hospitals’ compliance with existing regulations allowing patients to designate who they want to make medical decisions on their behalf through advance directives. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is on track to issue these guidelines in the coming months.
· Internal LGBT Coordinating Committee – To ensure effective coordination of LGBT-related policies and the consideration of LGBT concerns throughout HHS’s activities, Secretary Sebelius established an internal committee of senior representatives from each operating and staff division of the Department and named Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh, and Acting Assistant Secretary for Children and Families David Hansell to co-chair this committee. The committee will produce an annual report on the Department’s key accomplishments and upcoming initiatives.
· Institute of Medicine Study on LGBT Health – The National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded a study by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to identify research gaps and opportunities related to LGBT health and outline a research agenda. The results of this study, announced on March 31, 2011, will assist HHS in enhancing its research efforts.
· Healthy People 2020 – Every ten years, HHS develops national, science-based objectives for promoting health and preventing disease for the following decade. In 2010, for the first time, a formal workgroup was formed to examine the scientific literature and propose objectives regarding LGBT health. This initiative is part of HHS’s overall effort to strengthen LGBT data.
· National HIV/AIDS Strategy – On July 13, 2010, Secretary Sebelius joined the President and Jeffrey Crowley, director of the Office of National AIDS Strategy, in announcing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, a rigorous effort to increase access to care and lower the number of new HIV cases in the United States by 25 percent within the next five years. The strategy seeks to reduce HIV-related health disparities with a specific focus on high-risk populations, including LGBT populations.
· The Affordable Care Act – The health care law is helping to improve access to care for all Americans, including individuals in the LGBT community. Studies have shown that health disparities related to sexual orientation and gender identity are due in part to lower rates of health insurance coverage and a lack of cultural competency in the health care system. As HHS implements the Affordable Care Act, it will pay close attention to the unique health needs of LGBT populations and continue to include LGBT health experts on Affordable Care Act and other advisory boards, as appropriate.
· Tobacco Control – The 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act authorizes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate the content, marketing, and sale of tobacco products. These efforts, combined with tobacco cessation initiatives across HHS, have the potential to save millions of lives, particularly among high-risk populations, including LGBT populations. On November 10, 2010, HHS released a Department-wide strategic action plan to reduce tobacco use. To address higher smoking rates among LGBT individuals, this plan emphasizes the need for more research, and calls for the increased development of evidence-based, population-specific treatments and interventions. HHS will continue to work toward meeting these needs.
· Aging Services – In 2010, HHS funded the nation’s first national technical assistance resource center to support public and private organizations serving the unique needs of LGBT older adults. HHS also published a toolkit for providing respectful and inclusive services for diverse communities, including LGBT populations.
· Anti-Bullying Efforts – Last year, HHS collaborated with five other departments – Education, Agriculture, Defense, Interior, and Justice – to establish a federal task force on bullying. HHS also announced an unprecedented, cross-departmental National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention with a wide range of public and private partners to coordinate suicide prevention efforts, particularly among at-risk groups, such as LGBT youth. On March 10, Secretary Sebelius participated in the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention to further highlight the importance of making schools and communities safe for all students. HHS also launched a new website – – which contains a specific section for LGBT youth. Additionally, the Secretary recorded a video, It Gets Better, at, encouraging young people to reach out for help to overcome bullying by their peers.
· Improvements in Foster and Adoptive Care – To help address barriers to permanency and well-being for LGBT foster youth, who are disproportionately represented in the foster care population, HHS recently awarded a \ 3.3 million grant to theLos Angeles Gay & Lesbian Community Services Center. This is one of the largest federal grants ever awarded to an organization primarily serving LGBT individuals. HHS’s Administration for Children and Families also applied an existing cooperative agreement toward the development of respite care and support group models for LGBT parents to strengthen and support foster and adoptive placements. This grant will help reduce the barriers encountered by prospective and current foster and adoptive parents who are LGBT.
· Runaway and Homeless Youth Services – In contrast to previous years, HHS now requires that all organizations serving runaway and homeless youth be equipped to serve LGBT youth, who represent a disproportionate segment of this population. HHS also allows homeless and runaway youth providers to apply for funds to primarily serve LGBT youth. Moreover, HHS has begun the process of improving data collection among homeless and runaway LGBT youth through the Runaway Homeless Youth Information Management System.

Future Recommended Actions
HHS is moving forward with the following actions. HHS will continue to work in close coordination with LGBT community advocates in improving services and responding to the needs of these populations.
1. Later this year,, HHS’s innovative new on-line tool called for by the Affordable Care Act, will provide additional information of specific relevance to LGBT populations. In particular, the website will allow LGBT consumers to identify health insurance policies available to them that include coverage of domestic partners.
2. HHS will conduct outreach to organizations that serve LGBT communities to make them aware of available funding opportunities and, in Funding Opportunity Announcements, highlight programs that may particularly benefit LGBT populations.
3. The Department will continue to work toward increasing the number of federally-funded health and demographic surveys that collect and report sexual orientation and gender identity data, consistent with the President’s support for evidence-based policies. In collaboration with other agencies throughout HHS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is leading an effort to develop and test questions on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health is also reviewing existing LGBT data and will generate baselines and targets addressing LGBT health disparities through the Healthy People 2020 initiative. This process will include meetings with LGBT data experts and stakeholders to provide transparency and opportunities for input.
4. HHS will continue to evaluate ways its programs can ensure equal treatment of LGBT families. For example, HHS will advise states and tribes that federal law allows them to treat LGBT couples similarly to non-LGBT couples with respect to human services benefit programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and child care. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will also notify states of their ability to provide same-sex domestic partners of long-term care Medicaid beneficiaries the same treatment as opposite-sex spouses in the contexts of estate recovery, imposition of liens, and transfer of assets. This includes not seizing or imposing a lien on the home of a deceased beneficiary if the same-sex domestic partner still resides in the home. It also includes allowing Medicaid beneficiaries needing long-term care to transfer the title of a home to a same-sex domestic partner, allowing the partner to remain in the home.
5. HHS will encourage new and existing health profession training programs, including behavioral health (e.g. mental health, substance abuse, and HIV) programs, to include LGBT cultural competency curricula. The lack of culturally competent providers is a significant barrier to quality health care for many LGBT people, particularly those who identify as transgender. HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration will also convene professional groups that represent LGBT health providers and students to identify challenges and opportunities for training LGBT providers and to isolate strategies geared toward increasing culturally competent care for LGBT patients. In consultation with LGBT communities, HHS will develop cultural competency goals and promote the use of cultural competency curricula inclusive of LGBT populations in future grants guidance. Moreover, to improve the capacity of practitioners in addressing behavioral health needs, HHS’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will utilize existing federal and national training and technical assistance networks to support the adoption of behavioral health training materials.
6. HHS will provide guidance on the array of training and technical assistance available to state child welfare agencies to support LGBT youth, caregivers, and foster and adoptive parents.
HHS will continue to address discrimination, harassment, and violence against all individuals, including LGBT individuals, through domestic violence and other violence prevention programs. This includes recognizing LGBT populations as underserved communities in 2011 and 2012 Funding Opportunity Announcements under the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program and, where appropriate, identifying LGBT populations as target populations for population-specific grants. HHS will integrate an even stronger component focusing on LGBT youth in all anti-bullying initiatives and continue working with the White House, Departments of Education, Agriculture, Defense, Interior, and Justice to ensure that states, schools, and the general public are aware of the resources available.


California lawmakers fight over bill to teach students about gay people's contributions

A measure proposed by state Sen. Mark D. Leno of San Francisco would require new social science textbooks to include 'a study of the role and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.'


Reporting from Sacramento -- As the battle over same-sex marriage makes its way through California's courts, another gay rights fight is smoldering in the Legislature.

Democratic lawmakers have revived a plan to require state schools to teach about the contributions of gay, lesbian and transgender Americans. They are reigniting a movement that halted five years ago when legislators approved such a requirement only to run into opposition from then-
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Now, with a Democrat in the governor's office, the lawmakers and gay rights activists are more hopeful that school curricula will be revised.

Jerry Brown has not taken a position on the proposal. But the push has divided religious leaders, educators and lawmakers and prompted accusations from opponents that those behind the effort seek to impose their values on the state and on students and parents who find same-sex relationships objectionable.

"It is, in fact, legislating morality," said Craig DeLuz, a parent and Sacramento school board member. "It is requiring taxpayers to foot the bill to promote a lifestyle to which they may or may not be morally opposed."

If implemented, the measure, which would revise social science textbooks, could have effects beyond California. The state is a major purchaser of educational texts, and publishers often produce books tailored to California that other states use as well.

The proposal would require that social science texts and other instruction include "a study of the role and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans … to the economic, political and social development of California and the United States of America, with particular emphasis on portraying the role of these groups in contemporary society."

Each school district would decide which age groups received such instruction.

Gay rights activists say the legislation is overdue and would extend recognition long provided in textbooks and classrooms to historical figures who are African American, Latino and Asian American.

Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) who introduced the bill, SB 48, said it addresses a glaring oversight in educating young people that has led to harassment of gays by their classmates.

In an emotional plea for the bill at a recent legislative hearing, Leno invoked the name of Seth Walsh, a 13-year-old student from Tehachapi who committed suicide last year after facing anti-gay bullying at school.

"In light of the ongoing and ever-threatening phenomenon of bullying and the tragic result of suicides, it seems to me that better informed students might be more welcoming in their approach to differences among their classmates," Leno said in an interview. "Students would better understand that we are talking about a civil rights movement."

Some gay high school students said they welcomed Leno's effort, which they said would make them feel less isolated. It would show that non-heterosexuals "have contributed to the U.S. in significant ways," said a 17-year-old at Bell High School.

The student said he would join dozens of other gay and lesbian students advocating for the bill at a rally Monday at the Capitol.

Meanwhile, several
Republicans are aggressively fighting the proposal. State Sen. Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) charged at a recent education committee hearing that it would "sexualize the training of our children at an early age."

Leno took umbrage at the remark, saying, "I would imagine you have never been harassed or discriminated against because you are gay. I have."

In the first test of the measure this year, the panel passed it on a 6-3 party-line vote last week.

The measure is backed by California Church Impact, a group whose members include the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, the Greek Orthodox Church and others. But lawmakers have been flooded with letters of opposition from groups including the California Catholic Conference, the First Southern Baptist Church and the Thousand Oaks Christian Fellowship.

"This is all absurd," said a letter from several religious leaders, including Arland Steen, a pastor for the Thousand Oaks group. "At a time when our state lacks dollars to pay for the current needs in education, this Legislature is actually considering adding more financial burden on schools to pay for new textbooks that will teach so-called gay history."

Leno said the proposed law would cost nothing. Textbooks would be changed in the next scheduled revisions, due to be approved by the state in a couple of years.

Although some teachers have testified against the change, it is supported by the California Teachers Assn. and the
Los Angeles Unified School District.

"We are trying to provide, for those students that feel disenfranchised, some role models," said Virginia Strom-Martin, the district's lobbyist.


Senior girl pushes back, allowed to get dressed up, in tux, for prom

Belinda Sanchez, 18, fought administrators at Proviso East
High School to wear a tuxedo to prom.

A senior at Proviso East High School, Belinda Sanchez hopes to one day become a civil rights attorney. On Thursday, the 18-year-old got her first taste of victory, winning the right to wear a tuxedo to her upcoming senior prom.

Sanchez was initially told by the Maywood school's principal, Milton Patch, that she could not wear a tuxedo to her prom and needed to wear a dress.

"I was just shocked," Sanchez said.

Sanchez, a lesbian, said has been open about her sexuality since freshman year. She said the school has an active gay-straight alliance and it is very supportive of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.

She wound up contacting the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois over the prom situation. On Wednesday, the group sent a letter to the school district backing her position.

"This sends a negative message to other students that they can't express who they are," said John Knight, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Project at the ACLU. "It's a First Amendment right, a free speech right, and that includes her right to send a message through wearing male clothing that she doesn't think women should be restricted to traditional female clothing."

On Thursday, the Proviso Township school district sent a response to Knight saying that Sanchez will be allowed to wear a tuxedo to the prom, on April 22.

District spokeswoman TaQuoya Kennedy said the decision to allow the teen to wear a tuxedo was actually made at the end of last week, well before the ACLU got involved.

Kennedy said Sanchez asked the district to reconsider the principal's original decision last Thursday and a decision to allow her to wear what she wanted was made Friday. Kennedy said that because it was the beginning of the school's break, the principal had not been able to let Sanchez know that she could wear the tuxedo.

In an email to the Tribune, Kennedy wrote that Sanchez has opened "up a new, very interesting and healthy dialogue in terms of our prom review procedures. We support our students in all of their differences and we encourage them to express themselves in various ways as long as it is not disruptive to the school environment. The principal gave his initial determination based on his interpretation of the policy, and the student asked that it be reconsidered. After looking into the policy — it was."

Sanchez was, of course, delighted by the decision. She had already picked out a stylish white tuxedo with a black bow tie, and now she knows she'll be able to wear it at the main event of her senior year.

"I'm happy," she said. "I didn't just stand up for myself. I did this for everyone who's in a position like I'm in."

Sitting on the couch at her home in Melrose Park, Sanchez let out a laugh: "It's like a fairy tale gone totally fairy."


Nicki Minaj says ‘openly bisexual’ rumours aren’t true

Nicki Minaj 'embraces gay culture'.
By Jessica Geen -

Pop star Nicki Minaj has shot down rumours that she is “openly bisexual”.
The star, who has been linked to fellow singer Rihanna, said people were “thrown off” by the fact she embraces gay culture.
When asked if she was bisexual by Q magazine, she said: “That’s definitely not true…”
She added: “I say whatever I want in my songs and just leave it at that. I guess some people are thrown off by me embracing gay culture, but I don’t feel the need to explain that. Unless someone asks me a specific question.”
Earlier this year, the star claimed she had a gay boy living inside her.
She said: “Roman’s a little gay boy who lives in me.”
“Every time I talk he sort of just appears and I tell him, ‘Roman, you know, stop it, you’ve gone mad, I tell you, mad.’ He’s an outlet to say what I need to say but sometimes don’t want to.”


Dear USCIS: Don't Go Back to Denying Green Cards to Loving, Same-Sex Couples


  • The President of the United States
  • Director, USCIS(Alejandro Mayorkas)
  • Acting Deputy Director, USCIS(Lauren.Kielsmeier)
  • Assistant Director, ICE(John Morton)
  • Secretary of Homeland Security(Janet Napolitano)
  • Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, White House(Cecilia Muñoz) 


On Monday, March 28th, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) confirmed that it would hold off on processing green card applications from married, same-sex couples that were being routinely denied the right to remain together.  Thinking USCIS would hold these cases until the legal challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was resolved, advocates for LGBT and immigrant rights celebrated a step forward for basic justice.
Sadly, the Obama administration is backtracking already. Officials are telling the media that same-sex couples could go back to being denied a life together in less than a week.  Thousands of couples would again be faced with the prospect of choosing between the person they love and the country they call home.
Perhaps USCIS, DHS, and the White House need a reminder that these are real people’s lives they are toying with. Sign the petition urging USCIS to stand by its original decision to hold off on processing green card applications for loving same-sex couples, at least until DOMA can be decided.
We are a volunteer grassroots organization that addresses the widespread discriminatory impact of U.S. immigration laws on the lives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and HIV+ people and their families through education, outreach, advocacy and the maintenance of a resource and support network.
NO U.S. citizen should be forced to choose between country and partner!


I am writing because I strongly believe that green card applications from loving, same-sex couples should be put on hold for processing until after the courts make a final decision on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

To do otherwise -- at this critical moment for equality -- would be both unjust and not in keeping with the priorities of this Administration and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Again, I urge you to embrace the public policy that USCIS outlined on Monday, March 28th, and hold these cases in what is called "abeyance" until DOMA is decided one way or the other. No one should have to choose between the person and the country they love, just because of their sexual orientation.


[Your name]
Petitions by|Start a Petition »


A Game Plan for ENDA

Rep. Barney Frank
Rep. Barney Frank
By Tico Almeida -

Representatives Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) recently introduced the bipartisan and fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). But let’s be honest. ENDA is not going to pass this year.

The Obama administration may well create an executive order requiring federal contractors to guarantee workplace fairness for LGBT employees. But what can we reasonably hope to accomplish in Congress on ENDA in the short run?

Sen. Tom Harkin (D) of Iowa - a longtime progressive leader - currently presides as chairman of the Senate Labor Committee. He can and should organize an ENDA hearing during the upcoming year. Making up for mistakes made in the past, he can and should call one or more transgender Americans to testify at that hearing.

To begin, a quick survey of ENDA’s recent history on Capitol Hill is worthwhile. I had a front-row seat to most of this legislative process because of my role as ENDA’s lead counsel in the U.S. House of Representatives, where I worked for three years as labor counsel for Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.).

During the period from 2007 to 2009, our staff on the House Labor Committee organized three separate ENDA hearings, and we called five transgender witnesses to testify. One of the three hearings was specifically focused on workplace discrimination against transgender Americans. We of course also called many gay and lesbian witnesses, and straight allies, too.

I had a significant role in selecting witnesses for our ENDA hearings, and I made it a priority to invite transgender Americans to tell Congress their stories. I vividly remember sitting in the counsel’s chair on the committee dais as Vandy Beth Glenn testified somberly about being fired on the same day she told her employer that she planned to transition from male to female. I watched as several members of Congress quietly teared up and shook their heads in sadness while listening to her speak.

After working on ENDA for three years in Congress, my most certain conclusion is that we will surely win this legislative battle if more LGBT victims of senseless workplace discrimination can tell their stories - to Congress, to the media, and to their neighbors and friends - and demonstrate to the American people that all we are seeking is a law granting us an equal shot to hold down a job and build a happy life. ENDA is fundamental to the American dream.

Now, contrast our three House ENDA hearings with the lone hearing during the same period by the Senate Labor Committee. Despite urging from various LGBT advocates well in advance of that hearing, the Senate staffers refused to call a single transgender American to testify.

On the day of the Senate hearing, Diego Sanchez from Rep. Frank’s office explained to The Advocate magazine that the problem with excluding transgender witnesses is that it sends a ’’signal that [transgender people] are disposable.’’ In fact, that decision did send all the wrong signals. Over in the U.S. House of Representatives, some concluded that if the Senate would not even call a transgender witness to a hearing, our colleagues in the higher chamber of Congress were unlikely to actually call a vote on a fully inclusive ENDA before the end of the session.

I should note here that to my knowledge, the decision to omit transgender Americans from the witness list was made at the staff level. From what I know of Chairman Harkin and his commitment to advancing workplace justice, he would have insisted upon inviting a transgender American to speak at his hearing if he had known in advance there was a controversy.

But that is history. ENDA has been reintroduced, and we should look forward. During the upcoming year, Chairman Harkin can and should organize an ENDA hearing. He can and should call one or more transgender Americans to testify. I have the highest respect for Mr. Harkin, and I am willing to bet he will be on our side.
Copyright MetroWeekly. For more articles from MetroWeekly visit

Supporters of GLBT Patriots Push Back Over DADT Oversight Hearing

Andrew Wilfahrt
Andrew Wilfahrt

By Kilian Melloy -

An oversight hearing chaired by an opponent to the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell has anti-gay groups excited at the prospect of hampering the anti-gay law’s retirement. But supporters of gay and lesbian patriots are standing firm.

The oversight hearing was scheduled to take place April 1. In advance of the hearing, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) issued a March 30 press release, published in its entirely at GLBT news site WGLB

"Chaired by repeal opponent Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), the Military Personnel Subcommittee also comprises a number of members who have voted for repeal, such as Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU), Rep. Robert Brady (D-PA), Rep. David Loebsack (D-IA), Rep. Chellie Pingree, (D-ME), and Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA)," the release noted.

"This hearing represents an update from these military leaders on how the Department of Defense is preparing for repeal, including the current training efforts in each of the services. Each branch is currently undergoing the third step of training, which targets the bulk of the force, and this training has progressed as a non-event.

"But repeal opponents will stop at nothing to slow down the repeal process," added the release. "Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness has already riled up the opposition, saying, ’Our goal is to convince members of Congress that they must intervene with well-informed questions and an appropriate statement to the Administration summarized in three words: "Not so fast!" ’ "

"The service men and women harmed by this discriminatory law--a number of whom will be seated in the hearing room--know better," added the release. "They know we must keep moving forward to finally get this law off the books. SLDN is actively pushing back on the opposition, defending our clients and service members and urging a timely repeal."

Another release from SLDN on April 1 included a statement from the group’s executive director.

"Today’s hearing represents a shameless and transparent attempt by a few repeal opponents to delay, defund, and derail the timely certification and full repeal of the discriminatory ’Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law," charged SLDN head Aubrey Sarvis. "Mr. Wilson knows better. There was nothing undemocratic about last year’s vote to repeal ’Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ The measure passed both houses of Congress on a strong bi-partisan vote."

Gay conservative group the Log Cabin Republicans filed a federal lawsuit against DADT that culminated in a Sept. 9, 2010, finding that the anti-gay law violates the United States Constitution. The terms of the law, enacted in 1993 under then-president Bill Clinton, are still in effect, and stipulate that unless gay and lesbian servicemembers conceal their sexual orientation, they are subject to discharge from the service. The government has appealed the ruling.

To date, and despite a Congressional vote for repeal last December, the law remains in effect. Barring final court action, the law will only be repealed once the President, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Secretary of Defense all certify that the United States Armed Forces are ready for the change. Even then, the repeal will be final until an additional sixty days have passed.

"I commend Dr. Stanley, the Repeal Implementation Team, and the service chiefs for clearly demonstrating--today and throughout this process--their commitment to carrying out the will of the Congress, the President, and the American people in a responsible and thoughtful way, Sarvis continued.

"We shouldn’t be delaying certification as some out of touch House members suggested today. Instead, Congress should encourage the Pentagon to get on with the task they were given last year. After all, they’ve already had 100 days to certify."

Meantime, GLBT patriots are still at risk of discharge, the SLDN release warned. And gay and lesbian patriots are still putting their lives at risk for their country--and sometimes losing their lives in battle overseas.

A joint press release from Courage Campaign and Outserve announced the posting of a video in which the parents of a fallen U.S. soldier offered testimony about their son’s sacrifice.

"As the military prepares to certify and implement repeal of the ’Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy, OutServe, the underground network of over 2,900 active LGBT military personnel, and Courage Campaign, a 750,000 member progressive organizing network today released a new video from the parents of US Army Corporal Andrew Wilfahrt, a gay soldier killed in combat last month in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan," the release said.

"He thought he’d go, so someone else with family and children wouldn’t have to go," Jeff Wilfahrt said of his son. "His aptitude tests were off the charts... he was a soldiers’ soldier, and all of his commanders were struck by him."

"The stories we’ve heard from people in his unit indicate that he kept some people calm when things got rough," the fallen young man’s mother, Lori Wilfahrt, said. "People in his unit knew he was gay... and they didn’t care."

"To date, nearly 6,000 Americans have been killed in the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," noted the release. "In addition to Corporal Wilfahrt, at least three LGBT service men and women have died in combat since ’Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’s’ conditional repeal was signed into law on December 22, 2010."

"Corporal Wilfahrt epitomized the courage, dedication and selflessness that gay and straight troops alike have shown in battle since our nation’s founding," openly gay veteran and Outserve spokesperson Jonathan Hopkins said.

"Ultimately Corporal Wilfahrt’s story is not about differences or politics, but the values that unite all who wear the proud uniform of our nation--loyalty to each other, love of country, and the willingness to give their lives in its defense," added Hopkins, who has seen combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We are so grateful to the Wilfahrts for their service to our country and for sharing their powerful story," Rick Jacobs, the founder and head of Courage Campaign, stated. "While Andrew’s loss leaves a void in his unit and family, we all honor his legacy by ensuring the nation for which Corporal Wilfahrt made the ultimate sacrifice lives up to its highest ideals--to include full equality for LGBT Americans, both inside and outside of the military."

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


Friday, April 1, 2011


Occasionally there is a concurrence of news items that just nest together so well that it's impossible not to comment on it.

First off, let me say that Wednesday night I finished reading the Kindle edition of the novel I am J, written by Cris Beam. The book was Amazon's Best Book for Young Adults for the month of March. I'll be back later with my thoughts on the book.

Next up, yesterday was the first annual International Transgender Day of Visibility, coming to us out of Transgender Michigan, with promotional assistance from Monica Roberts at TransGriot.

Happy 2 Year Anniversary, Iowa!

April 3rd, 2011 marks the 2 year anniversary of marriage equality in Iowa. In 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled unanimously that banning same-sex couples from marrying was unconstitutional in Lambda Legal's case Varnum v. Brien. Executive Director Kevin Cathcart and Iowa teen Zach Wahls talk about how the victory impacted not only Iowa and the entire country, and the road ahead to ensure the victory stands.


Today's hearing


This morning, the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee held the first “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) repeal oversight hearing, chaired by Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC).

SLDN took to the Hill with veterans discharged under DADT, as Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness) Dr. Clifford Stanley and Director of Joint Staff Vice Admiral William Gortney provided testimony about the status of training and education in preparation for repeal. Training, which began March 1, is expected to conclude by mid-summer though no definite date has been set. About 200,000 military personnel (9 percent of the entire Force) have been trained so far.

As we move toward repeal, SLDN will remain on the frontlines in the halls of Congress, the media, and in communities around the nation. With your support, we will continue to make the case for swift repeal, tell the stories of service members affected by DADT, and provide legal services to those who are under DADT investigations and face the possibility of discharge.

But we need your help. Contribute to SLDN to help us keep up the fight.

Dr. Stanley reiterated that the armed forces are preparing for open service in a timely and responsible manner that is consistent with unit cohesion, good order, morale and discipline, also noting that there have been “no implications on recruiting” and “that the training has been very effective.” Vice Admiral Gortney, who reported that training is moving along smoothly throughout the services, added that no missions overseas have been disrupted. He and Dr. Stanley repeatedly underscored the importance of leadership, respect and professionalism in continuing to lay the foundation for a successful transition.

Following the hearing, I released a statement on behalf of SLDN, and you can read it here.

Today’s hearing is only the first of more to come. Opponents of repeal have not given up and will try to turn back the clock again. Advocates of open service must remain vigilant, engaged, and ready to push back hard as we move forward to a timely repeal.

The fight is not over, and the job is not done! Support SLDN today.

Thanks for continuing to stand with us.

Aubrey Sarvis
Army veteran and SLDN Executive Director

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Meredith Baxter Gives a Damn about Equality, Do You?

Chely Wright Gives a Damn about Equality, Do You?

Get Informed. Get Involved. Give a Damn!

Join us at to learn more!

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Meredith Baxter shares how she went from being a member of the majority to a member of the minority when she came out of the closet and why she stands up for equality! It's time for things to change and for all of us to give a damn about equality.


Stand Up! - Don't Stand for Homophobic Bullying

Irish anti homophobic bullying advertisement, created as part of BeLonG To Youth Services annual Stand Up! LGBT Awareness Weeks. The campaign promotes friendship amongst young people as a way to combat homophobic bullying.

For more information on the campaign please see:


"Backlash or Evolution?" - IN THE LIFE - Episode 2007 - April, 2011


The 10 Year Anniversary of Marriage Equality -- Today!

Ten years ago today, Helene Faasen and Anne-Marie Thus, Ton Jansen and Louis Rogmans, Peter Wittebrood-Lemke and Frank Wittebrood, and Dolf Pasker and Gert Kastell were the first four same-sex couples in the modern world to be joined in legally-sanctioned matrimony. The marriages took place at midnight on April 1st, 2001, in Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Helene Faasen and Anne-Marie Thus


Ton Jansen and Louis Rogmans


Faasen & Thus, Jansen & Rogmans, Wittebrood-Lemke & Wittebrood, Pasker & Kastell (left)
Amsterdam's mayor wed four gay couples at the stroke of midnight Saturday, immediately after the legislation enacted last year went into effect. The couples - three male and one female - nervously held hands and exchanged vows to fulfill the duties of matrimony set out in Dutch law.

Supporters predicted it would lead to similar legislation in other countries.

Sometimes the prognosticators get it right. In ten years, ten countries have legalized same-sex marriages:

  • Netherlands: 2001
  • Belgium: 2003
  • Spain: 2005
  • Canada: 2005
  • South Africa: 2006
  • Norway: 2009
  • Sweden: 2009
  • Portugal: 2010
  • Iceland: 2010
  • Argentina: 2010

Same-sex marriage is also legal in the state-level jurisdictions of

  • Massachusetts: 2004
  • Connecticut: 2008
  • Iowa: 2009
  • Coquille Indian Tribe: 2009
  • Vermont: 2009
  • New Hampshire: 2010
  • Washington DC: 2010
  • Mexico City: 2010

There are also approximately 18,000 legally married same-sex couples in the state of California, but it is not currently legal to marry a person of the same-sex there.

As the number of countries legalizing same-sex marriage has gone from none to ten in a span of ten years, support for marriage equality has risen dramatically in the United States:


Pew Polling 1996-2010 General Social Survey 1988-2010

As measured by Pew, in 2001 there were only 35% supportive and 57% opposed, while now there are 45% supportive and 46% opposed, a change of 21% in 10 years.

As measured by the General Social Survey, in 2004 59% were opposed and only 30% in favor, but in 2010 only 40% were opposed and 46% in favor, a dramatic reversal of 35% in just 7 years.

What does the future hold? Doris Day should be cited as the expert here. But there are a few things one can say with confidence:

  • Support for same-sex marriage will continue to rise in most parts of the world as an older generation less supportive of marriage equality is replaced by a younger generation that is far more supportive, while social norms presented on television and in movies push more acceptance of gay couples and same-sex marriages. When Lady Gaga's Born This Way video can command more than 28 million views, you know things are changing in support of tolerance.
  • The Religious Right will continue to fight same-sex marriage, and will continue to have successes out of proportion to their numbers, as was demonstrated only a few weeks ago in Maryland.

Look at some recent polling to see the out-of-proportion effect the Religious Right exerts:

  • Australia: Neilson: 57% - 37% in favor of same-sex marriage, yet the ruling left-wing party won't even consider a legalization bill in Parliament.
  • Ireland: Sunday Times, 73% - 22% in favor, and Irish Independent, 61% - 27% in favor, yet same-sex marriage is not legal.
  • Rhode Island: PPP 50% - 41%, Greenberg Quinlan 59% - 31%, yet it is doubtful that marriage equality can be passed through the Legislature.
  • New York: Quinnipaic 56% - 37%, Sienna, 57% - 38%, but the votes do not yet exist in the state's Senate for passage.

Looking forward, there are no legislative actions that I am aware of currently underway in other countries to legalize same-sex marriages, although the possibility of such actions has been mentioned in various locations: Ireland, Scotland, the United Kingdom, Finland, Luxembourg, Nepal, Australia, Brazil and Uruguay are some that come to mind.

The only US state legislature currently considering legalizing same-sex marriage is Rhode Island. The only ballot initiative that has an active campaign attached to it is in Oregon, by Basic Rights Oregon for 2012, Potentialities exist for ones in California and Washington State, but they are by no means certainties.

Nothing will come easy. It took a supermajority of Americans in support of repeal of Don't Ask, Dont' Tell to get a half-assed bill through Congress. A supermajority in support of ENDA has not been enough for that effort yet. Significant majorities in support of marriage equality are not enough to have State Legislatures take heed, or to repeal DOMA at the Federal level. The next ten years will likely be as heart-rendering and struggle-filled as these last ten, but there is no indication that trends will reverse themselves.

It would take a book to recount the entire history of marriage equality efforts just in the United States, but even this short narrative would be remiss without mentioning

Jack Baker of Baker v Nelson

Jack Baker & James McConnell, the first American gay couple to seek a marriage license -- in 1971, 40 years ago! Their quest was rejected by the Minnesota Supreme Court and their appeal for a hearing was denied by the United States Supreme Court.

Finally, a toast to all those same-sex couples who have married in these 10 years, and a song that may one day come true for many, many more.


Naked Scandinavians too much for Facebook

Naked Scandinavians too much for Facebook

Moderators chose to erase an image posted on the Swedish underwear giant Björn Borg’s Facebook page, after deeming the contents to be pornographic. 

The image shows two naked men in an autumnal Scandinavian wood, jumping for Björn Borg underwear drying on a clothes line.

“We realized it was probably the most daring image we had ever uploaded, but were confident it was still within what is considered OK,” Micke Kazarnovicz, responsible for digital communication at Björn Borg, told The Local.

Many companies use Facebook to reach the 4 million or so users in Sweden. One of these is Björn Borg, who since 2007 has a large platform of user-generated content on their page.

Fans upload their own images and every week the company chooses a picture, which becomes the “Swedish export of the week”.

The happy snapper gets rewarded with free underwear and a chance to see his or her image posted on the official Björn Borg Facebook page.

But this particular image, taken by Jacob Mohr Hansen from Denmark, proved too much for Facebook.

The picture, uploaded around lunchtime, got many hits and many users left comments. But by the evening it had been erased.

And Kazarnovicz’ Facebook account had been frozen. In order to get his account back he had to promise not to upload any more ‘pornographic’ images.

“They saw this as pornographic, but to us it was really more a laugh, completely tongue in cheek. There is no eroticism at all in the picture, just nudity,” said Kazarnovicz.

Although he doesn’t think that Facebook has a policy about same-sex nudity the fact that the two men were seen naked together might have led to homophobic reactions and comments from the public.

“It was probably completely automatic. Someone reported it as offensive and then a moderator looked at it, consulted his rulebook and then erased it,” he said.

However, Kazarnovicz is certain that this has to do with differences between what is considered OK in Sweden compared to the US.

“In the US, violent scenes in films are accepted, but if a nipple is visible there’s a huge controversy. In Sweden it is the opposite,” he said.

According to Kazarnovicz, Facebook can’t continue to act in line with American morals on a global arena. It becomes a question of culture imperialism.

“They probably don’t have a policy to do this, but in reality, as soon as they moderate content according to the likes and dislikes of the average American, that’s exactly what they are doing,” he said.

For the moment, Björn Borg has made use of a blue square with the words “facebook friendly” covering the buttocks of the naked men.

But Kazarnovicz is certain that they will run in to trouble again. He thinks that Facebook needs to be more aware of the cultural differences of its users.

“Otherwise they are promoting a cultural uniformity that really shouldn’t be pursued,“ he said to The Local.

The underwear company is gay friendly as can be seen in an advert run a couple years ago.


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Do ask, do tell

Harvard Graduate School of Education  student hopes policy reversal will allow her return to service

By Colleen Walsh -
“I knew what the risk was, but I felt that my sexuality was so irrelevant compared to the privilege to serve,” said Lissa Young, a former Army officer who is now a doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. “It was a risk that I was willing to take every day.”
Last September, Lissa Young received a frantic phone call.
“What are you doing tomorrow?” asked a desperate friend on the other end of the line. “I need you to go to Portland, Maine, and introduce Lady Gaga for me.”
Young, unfamiliar with the edgy pop sensation, declined. But when her friend called back the next day in a panic, Young’s deep-rooted military sense of duty kicked in, and she agreed.
“I had no idea who Lady Gaga was, but I went.”
The doctoral candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education made the two-hour trip north from Cambridge to offer opening remarks at a rally with the singer organized by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. The event supported the repeal of  “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the longtime ban on gay men and lesbians openly serving in the military.
Young is painfully familiar with the toll the restrictive policy could take. A 16-year military veteran and helicopter pilot, the newly promoted lieutenant colonel was kicked out of the Army in 2002, just after her 40th birthday, for admitting she was gay.
“I knew what the risk was, but I felt that my sexuality was so irrelevant compared to the privilege to serve,” said the Florida native who wears her gold pilot’s wings on a chain around her neck. “It was a risk that I was willing to take every day.”
During her military career, Young spent three years as an instructor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. She had just been selected for a full-time position there when she was discharged.
Armed with her Harvard degree, she intends to head back to West Point, her alma mater, to teach, either in civilian clothes, or now, with the implementation of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010, quite possibly back in uniform.
“I really loved teaching cadets and being a part of influencing those formative years.”
Reeling from losing the only profession she had known, Young said she finally pulled herself “up off the floor” and joined the ranks of corporate America. She took a job with the military contractor Raytheon, selling air traffic control systems in the Middle East, but she was miserable. Recalling her love of teaching, she phoned a friend at West Point to inquire about returning to teach as a civilian instructor.
“Hurry up,” he told her, “we’d love to have you.”
In 2007 she enrolled at Harvard to pursue her doctorate and get started on her path back to West Point. Her dissertation will focus on how stereotyping and prejudice manifest in group dynamics.
“Being at Harvard is like being back in a place I belong,” said Young, who praised her colleagues and fellow students for “being so generous with their intellect.”
But Young’s path isn’t entirely clear, since “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was overturned in December after 18 years.
“I was equal parts elated, and equal parts nonplussed,” she recalled on hearing the policy would be thrown out. “I was really relieved for soldiers now who needed it, and I was also hurt, because I had this horrible feeling that it was too late for me, that I wouldn’t be able to serve again.” She is eagerly waiting to see if she will be able to re-enlist.
As the armed services work out the administrative details of the new policy, Young fears that a heart operation she had in 2009 to correct a faulty valve, her age, and other factors may prevent her returning to the service.
But if offered the chance to re-enlist, she would jump at it.
“I wouldn’t care if they sent me to some hole in the desert somewhere. I’d love to serve again.”
If she returns to the military, Young could serve and be reselected to teach at West Point as an officer. If not, she could also return to teach as a civilian.
“Somehow,” she said, “I am going to end up back there teaching.”


CDC Counselor Fired After Refusing Gay Woman, Now Suing

Marcia Walden
Marcia Walden  
By Greg Bluestein -

A woman who worked as a counselor for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims she was wrongly fired because of religious discrimination for refusing to advise a woman in a same-sex relationship, and she asked a federal appeals court Thursday to let her bring a lawsuit against the Atlanta-based agency.

There’s no dispute that a woman came to Marcia Walden in 2007 for advice involving a same-sex relationship, and Walden was let go after she told the woman she couldn’t help because her "personal values" as a devout Christian prevented her from offering any assistance. The woman, who was not named in legal filings, complained to administrators that she felt "judged and condemned" by Walden after the encounter.

The company that the CDC had hired to provide counseling services, Computer Sciences Corporation, terminated Walden at the CDC’s request.

The CDC and the company told the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that Walden could have simply referred the employee to another counselor without explanation. They argued that Walden’s religious beliefs didn’t require her to tell the client about her moral objections to engaging in same-sex relationship counseling.

"The CDC intervened and said we can’t have a counselor who wants to exclude an entire segment of the population," said Jeffrey Schwartz, an attorney for the contractor. "It would destroy the integrity of the program. People don’t want to come in and see a counselor if they are going to be kicked in the knees."

CDC attorney Matthew Collette added that the firm’s contract allows a counselor with a religious conflict to refer a case to another staffer, but bars the counselor from broadcasting feelings that "would cause potentially serious damage" to the program.

Walden’s attorneys countered that she was left little other option by the CDC and the contractor but to object on religious grounds. Attorney Jim Campbell said she was instructed to tell the client she didn’t have the experience to handle the case, even though she had extensive background in helping clients with relationship issues.

"She was targeted for mistreatment based on her religious beliefs," said Campbell, a lawyer with the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative religious rights organization that took the case. "It’s not her burden to come up with an excuse. She was offered one dishonest option - to say she didn’t have the expertise to handle the case - and she refused it."

The three-judge panel didn’t immediately rule, but two of the judges expressed skepticism about Walden’s case. U.S. Circuit Judge Charles R. Wilson questioned whether Walden even had grounds to bring the lawsuit.

Campbell, though, said the panel needed to step in to decide whether the CDC infringed on her "sincerely held religious beliefs."

"Counselors have an ethical obligation to refer - and that’s in the highest interest of the client so they can get the best advice," said Campbell. "And that’s what happened in this case."