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Saturday, June 11, 2011

A U.S. lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization says comedian Tracy Morgan must do more than apologize for his recent anti-gay remarks.

Morgan joked during a Nashville stand-up act about how violently he would react if his son told him he is gay. The "30 Rock" cast member later issued a statement apologizing "to my fans and the gay and lesbian community for my choice of words at my recent stand-up act in Nashville. I'm not a hateful person and don't condone any kind of violence against others. ... While I am an equal opportunity jokester, and my friends know what is in my heart, even in a comedy club this clearly went too far and was not funny in any context," reported.
The Human Rights Campaign said that is not enough.
"Tracy Morgan exercised extremely poor judgment and he did the right thing by apologizing. But that's just not enough. He's a role model and Morgan now has a responsibility to make amends for his horribly hurtful and dangerous 'comedy' routine. He also needs to go further than his apology and correct the record: no one should feel ashamed because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender and they should definitely not become a victim of violence," Fred Sainz, HRC vice president for communications, said in a statement Friday. "Words have consequences and Morgan should be held to a higher standard. Until he does something meaningful, his brand will remain tarnished."
Morgan's "30 Rock" co-star Tina Fey, in a statement to TMZ, said, "The violent imagery of Tracy's rant was disturbing to me at a time when homophobic hate crimes continue to be a life-threatening issue for the GLBT Community."
However, Fey also said what Morgan said in Nashville "doesn't line up with the Tracy Morgan I know, who is not a hateful man and is generally much too sleepy and self-centered to ever hurt another person.
"I hope for his sake that Tracy's apology will be accepted as sincere by his gay and lesbian co-workers at '30 Rock', without whom Tracy would not have lines to say, clothes to wear, sets to stand on, scene partners to act with, or a printed-out paycheck from accounting to put in his pocket."
TMZ said NBC Chairman Bob Greenblatt has put Morgan on notice that "this kind of behavior will not be tolerated."

Watch: Viral video shows the impact of homophobia

Paul O'Grady as an abused pensioner
By Jessica Geen -

A viral video by charity Albert Kennedy Trust (AKT) is raising awareness of the devastating impact homophobia can have.
The film shows gay celebrities as people facing abuse, harassment, drug addiction and homelessness because of their sexual orientation.
Stars including Sir Ian McKellen and Sue Perkins are shown sleeping rough and begging for change in the hard-hitting clip, which says that gay people who lack support can find their lives turned upside down.
Paul O’Grady, Hollyoaks actor Kieron Richardson and Byker Grove star Andrew Hayden-Smith also appear in the film.
The charity was founded in 1989 after the death of gay teenager Albert Kennedy, who jumped to his death while being chased by a homophobic gang.
Albert was in social care and the charity works to provide support and safe spaces for LGBT youths at risk of homelessness.
Sir Ian said: “I’ve been a supporter of the Albert Kennedy Trust since it was founded. It’s an inspiring story and it’s one of those charities that you can explain in one sentence and everybody gets it. It’s just depressing that 25 years on there is more need for the trust than ever.”
Perkins added: “We live in a really fortunate corner of the world – we’re affluent and we’re lucky, and for people to still suffer because of the prejudice of some is unforgivable so I thought it was something that was important to be involved in.”
This is the first campaign by the AKT and a spokesman for the charity said that all of those involved had given their time for free.
While the video is a viral campaign for now, AKT executives are looking into the possibility of broadcasting it.

Text 'Albert' to 82540 to donate £3 to AKT*

The Albert Kennedy Trust, a charity that helps support LGBT youths has released a shocking new film showing how the lives of many gay people could have taken a very different turn had they not received support when they needed it most. The 60" commercial features some famous gay celebrities and shows what might have been for them had they not had support.

*75% of your donation will go directly to AKT with 25% covering administration costs for the texting service.

London council urges gay couples to become foster parents

Lambeth council says it needs carers for kids of all ages
By Jessica Geen -

A London council is appealing for more gay couples to come forward to foster children in need of homes.
Lambeth council says it particularly needs carers for teenagers, disabled children and those on remand.
Cllr Pete Robbins, Lambeth Council Cabinet Member for Children and Young People Services, said he was concerned that so few gay couples in the borough are coming forward.
He said: “We are worried that gay couples in the borough think they can’t apply but this is simply not the case. There are many myths around who can be a foster carer, so this Fathers’ Day, we are urging single men, gay men and gay couples to come forward and find out more about fostering. The ability to provide a stable and loving environment for a child is the first qualification.”
Same-sex couples have been allowed to adopt or foster children jointly since 2005. However, only 3.75 per cent of children adopted in England in 2010 were adopted by gay couples. London is suffering a city-wide shortage of foster carers, especially those who can look after teenagers.
Mr Robbins added: “We are looking for foster carers from diverse backgrounds to provide children with a stable environment until it’s time for them to return home, move to a new permanent family or move to independent living. You do not have to be married, own your home or have children.
“At Lambeth, we are particularly in need of carers who can offer care for teenagers and young people who have been remanded to Lambeth by the courts. As well as carers for babies, children with a disability, and children who need a break from their natural parents (respite care).”
Lambeth council is inviting anyone interested in fostering to attend an information meeting in room 101 of the Town Hall on June 28th, between 4.30pm and 5.45pm. For more information, call 020 7926 8710.
Case study: ‘We’re better parents for fostering’

Simon and his partner have been foster parents with Lambeth council for four years.
He said: “Many gay people are put off applying as they don’t think they will be accepted as foster parents but this is not true. Fostering is a joy and you will make a real difference to a child who needs it. The ability to offer a child a loving and stable home life is the main criteria.
“We fostered a 16-year-old who came to us lacking confidence and with very low self-esteem. He told us he ‘felt worthless’ and was a ‘waste of space’. Eight months later he performed a song he’d written to an audience of 200 people. Through offering support, stability and a happy, loving home, he gained so much confidence and belief in himself. When you see a change like that you know exactly why you do it.
“We decided to foster through Lambeth for several reasons. We didn’t like the idea of fostering through an agency because morally it felt wrong to work with an organisation that made a profit from children in care. We found Lambeth to be open, flexible, diverse and it offered great support. Since we’ve fostered with Lambeth, we have found that there is a brilliant support network through the Lambeth Foster Care Association.
“Through it, you meet other foster carers, share common experiences and make new friends. It also organises lots of social things, like day trips, children’s parties and dinner parties, as well as training opportunities. The LFCA also has an excellent working relationship with the council, and we have regular open, candid and honest dialogue. Yes, its challenging, and a 24/7 commitment. It has tested us and our relationship, but it has also brought us closer because you make decisions together and you compromise together. We have disagreed on many things, never in front of our foster children, but we’ve worked through it, and the truth is we’re better parents for it.”

Puerto Rican Activists Demand Hate Crimes Charges in GLBT Murders

Pedro Julio Serrano
Pedro Julio Serrano
By Danica Coto -

Activists are demanding that a series of killings of gays, lesbians and transgenders in Puerto Rico be treated as possible hate crimes, saying there is an alarming rate of violence against these groups on the U.S. island.

In the last year and a half, at least 18 such people have been killed, three of them just this week, but authorities refuse to treat the cases as bias crimes, Pedro Julio Serrano, founder of the gay rights group Puerto Rico for Everyone, said Thursday.

"It seems they have declared open hunting season against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and transsexual people," said Serrano, who is also the communications director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

A 2002 hate crime law in Puerto Rico covers crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity, but it has only been invoked in one case. If someone is found guilty of a hate crime they automatically face the maximum sentence for the underlying offense. If the offense is murder, it means life in prison.

The island’s attorney general created a special committee last year to investigate hate crimes, and the government recently appointed prosecutor Janet Parra to oversee hate crimes. Police are expected to name a liaison with the gay and lesbian community.

Neither Parra nor Police Chief Jose Figueroa Sancha returned messages seeking comment.

"These are tentative steps," Serrano said. "With the level of violence that we have, we have to take bigger steps."

The most recent victim, Carlos Alfredo Gomez, a transsexual known as Karlota, was shot to death Tuesday by someone driving along a street where he worked as a prostitute, police have said. No one has been arrested.

In late April, another transsexual, Francheska Gonzalez, was severely beaten by a man while leaving a gas station in the suburb of Rio Piedras.

"He began yelling insults at me," she said, adding that he hit her so hard he broke the implant in her right breast.

The suspect faces a June 29 hearing for an assault charge. Gonzalez wants him to be charged with a hate crime.

Late last year, two young men dressed in women’s clothing were shot in the head and apparently run over by a car in the southern city of Juana Diaz. Also last year, the naked and battered body of a transgender woman, Ashley Santiago, was found in her home in the northern town of Corozal.

In a November 2009 case that sparked vigils in New York and Chicago, gay teenager Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado was found decapitated and partially burned in Cayey. The suspect has been charged with first-degree murder.

The Human Rights Campaign, a Washington-based group, issued a statement Wednesday urging Puerto Rico’s government and police to create a plan to address crimes against gays and lesbians.

"The alarming rate of violence ... cannot be tolerated," the group said.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Broadway Stars for HRC's NYers for Marriage Equality

Leading Broadway performers support marriage equality. Do you?

Australian man killed gay housemate over sexual advances

By Jessica Geen -

An Australian man killed his gay housemate when the man made drunken sexual advances to him, a court has heard.
Aaron James Johnstone, 29, admits attacking 46-year-old Philip Higgins at their Seaford home in September 2006 but denies he intended to kill him, AAP reports.
Johnstone claims he “lost it” when Higgins drunkenly propositioned him for oral sex and said this was not the first time his housemate had made advances to him.
Prosecutor Mark Rochford SC said Johnstone had carried out a sustained attack on the older man, beating him with an 8kg platypus statue and an office chair.
Higgins suffered numerous injuries, including a fractured bone in his neck and head wounds.
When he was arrested, Johnstone told police that Higgins had come out of a bedroom and suggested that the pair have oral sex.
He said he then began hitting and kicking Higgins before dropping the statue on him.
Mr Rochford said Johnstone’s actions showed he intended to kill or seriously injure Higgins.
Johnstone’s lawyer Paul Desmond said: “The evidence will show that Higgins propositioned Johnstone in his drunken state.”
The trial continues.

Tens of thousands expected at Tel Aviv Gay Pride

By Jessica Geen -

Tens of thousands of people are expected to join Tel Aviv Pride in Israel today.
The day kicked off with a fair at Meir Park and will end with a party at Gordon Beach, where the march concludes.
Speakers include opposition leader Tzipi Livni, former social affairs minister Isaac Herzog, a candidate to lead the Labor Party and the head of the Knesset’s gay and lesbian caucus, MK Nitzan Horowitz.
This is Tel Aviv’s 14th year. Unlike Jerusalem Pride, it usually passes peacefully, despite calls from some religious conservatives to ban it.
In addition to the main parade, a breakaway, ‘radical’ event is being held by gay activists who say Pride has become too commercialised.
Organiser Elisha Alexander told Hareetz: “Basically, the ones making a big fuss are the ones making the most money. The voices of some of those in the community with less money are not being heard.”
He added: “The radical parade has its own slogan. We don’t just want to fight homophobia in a superficial way and ignore all the other ills of society. The radical fight means that things need to be fundamentally changed; we don’t need cosmetic change.”

Canadian Catholic school bans rainbows

By Jessica Geen -

A Canadian Catholic school has banned pupils from using rainbows, the symbol of the gay pride movement.
St Joseph Catholic Secondary School in Ontario apparently told students holding a June 3rd anti-homophobia event that they couldn’t use the colourful symbol.
However, clever pupils led by 16-year-old Leanne Iskander found a novel way to get their message across – by using food dyes to make cupcakes with a secret rainbow centre.
Leanne, the founder of the school’s unofficial gay-straight alliance group, told “We brought signs and posters with rainbows, and we were told that we can’t put them up.
“They said rainbows are associated with Pride. There’s so many other things that a rainbow could be. It’s ridiculous.”
Although the pupils raised $200 from their cake sale, they were banned from giving the money to an LGBT charity. Instead, Leanne said they were told to donate the funds to a Catholic homeless shelter.
No one from the school has commented.
Although the school has an unofficial gay-straight alliance, pupils were barred from setting up an official group.
In January, the local Catholic District School Board chair Alice Anne LeMay told Xtra then that the board “doesn’t allow Nazi groups either. Gay-straight alliances are banned because they are not within the teachings of the Catholic Church”.

Gay rights campaigners call for mosques to ban anti-gay speakers

By Jessica Geen -

A group of gay rights campaigners has demanded that mosques in east London must ban homophobic speakers.
The call follows a £100 fine for a man convicted of pasting anti-gay stickers around the area.
Mohammed Hasnath, 18, of Leamouth, pleaded guilty to a public order offence over the ‘gay-free zone’ stickers, which misquoted the Koran.
A letter signed by 12 activists, including writers Julie Bindel and Paul Burston, said it was clear that Hasnath was part of a wider campaign to intimidate gay people. (Read the full letter below)
It said: “There is a strong feeling that homophobia is being covered up, or ignored, in order not to ‘endanger community relations’. The paltry fine issued by the court lends weight to this fear. It sends a message that bullies and thugs can get away with it, and that homophobia is a second-class crime.
“The problem lies not with the judge, who was constrained by the charges under which the case was brought, but primarily with the law itself which treats mounting an inter-city, coordinated anti-gay intimidation campaign as nothing more serious than illicit flyposting or spitting in the street. Such a light penalty would be unthinkable if we were considering groups operating across UK to create Jew-free, Black-free, Muslim-free or Christian-free zones.”
Homophobic hate crime has risen in Tower Hamlets over the last year, from 61 offences to 87. In 2008, gay man Oliver Hemsley was paralysed in a homophobic attack on Hackney Road, close to gay nightspots George & Dragon and The Joiners Inn.
The letter listed a number of anti-gay Muslim clerics hosted by the East London Mosque, including Abdul Karim Hattin’s 2007 ‘spot the fag’ contest and Abdullah Hakim Quick, who is on record calling for the death penalty for gays.
Activists said: “The East London Mosque claims to have no responsibility over those who speak there. The East London Mosque also claims to be opposed to the ‘gay-free zone’ campaign and homophobia. We demand that the East London Mosque live up to its stated word, take ownership of its platform and stop allowing its premises to be used to promote gay-hate campaigns.”
In response, East London Mosque spokesman Salman Farsi told the Guardian that homophobic speakers were not permitted.
“Any speaker who is believed to have said something homophobic will not be allowed to use our premises, whether that is us organising an event or someone else. As for the condemnation of homophobia, our director has gone on the record on this,” he said.
He added that the £100 fine was a “slap on the wrist” and said the mosque was doing “as much as we possibly can”.
Read the letter in full below:
Many gay and lesbian people across the UK and beyond are furious that during a period of rising anti-gay hate crime in Tower Hamlets a man found guilty of distributing and placing homophobic hate stickers around the borough has been fined just £100.
Mohammed Hasnath, of Leamouth, Tower Hamlets, admitted putting up the stickers, which declared a ‘Gay Free Zone’ and quoted a verse from the Qur’an, on the 25 bus, a bus stop in Whitechapel, Bow Church DLR station, and outside the Royal London Hospital, as well as handing them out to “random Muslim men”, between the 11 and 14 February this year.
The stickers (one sixth-A4 size) have been seen in several streets in Shoreditch, Canary Wharf and Hackney as well. Similar religiously-inspired homophobic hate stickers have also been reported in the Midlands. The campaigns lasted for several months, dating back to September of last year.
This week, some news reports inaccurately reported that the campaign to isolate, intimidate and stoke up hatred against the local gay population in East London was solely the work of one man, the convicted Hasnath.
People are upset that a coordinated, prolonged, multi-city attempt to define parts of the UK as Gay-Free Zones was treated as no more than mildly disorderly conduct. A comment on PinkNews says it all: “He was charged under section 5 of the public order act 1986 – which is often used to prosecute someone who repeatedly swears in the street – that is the level of offence that was used in the case. Shocking watering down of the impact of this on the communities by the justice system – let down by police and CPS…”
There is a strong feeling that homophobia is being covered up, or ignored, in order not to ‘endanger community relations’. The paltry fine issued by the court lends weight to this fear. It sends a message that bullies and thugs can get away with it, and that homophobia is a second-class crime.
The problem lies not with the judge, who was constrained by the charges under which the case was brought, but primarily with the law itself which treats mounting an inter-city, coordinated anti-gay intimidation campaign as nothing more serious than illicit flyposting or spitting in the street. Such a light penalty would be unthinkable if we were considering groups operating across UK to create Jew-free, Black-free, Muslim-free or Christian-free zones.
The absurdity of the sentence points to the need to change the laws so that gays receive the same protections as Muslims, blacks or Jews. For the words human rights to mean anything they can’t be applied only to people who belong to certain religious, sexual, racial, class, national or other groups. Human rights are for everyone or they are not at all.
The “Gay-Free Zone” campaign was deliberately committed to fill gay people with fear in an area where they have already have been subject to vicious assaults and intimidation by gangs and ideologues for years
The arrest and conviction of a low-level patsy on risible charges and the resulting arguments over the case – as well as the misinformation which had previously been knowingly spread by certain “community representatives” about the true identity of the culprits – are a sideshow and a distraction from the urgent business of investigating and stopping those who are behind this campaign of intimidation.
While it is often claimed that homophobic hate crime is ‘falling’ in Tower Hamlets, the most recent statistics released by the Metropolitan Police Service show that homophobic hate crime is UP in Tower Hamlets by 21% over last annual reporting period, from 67 attacks to 81; during the same period, religious/racial hate crime remained flat. (see: Many gay people have been forced out of the borough, unable to cope with the harassment.
A particularly vicious attack – ignored by national media – occurred in late August 2008, when a 21 year-old art student, Oliver Hemsley, was butchered just after leaving the George & Dragon pub on Hackney Road in Shoreditch.
He was set on by a gang of 8 Bengali youths, his wine bottle snatched from him, smashed and the broken glass driven into his torso; they kicked him to a pulp, and finally a stabbed him in the neck, a knife partly cutting his spinal cord to leave him quadriplegic. A 15 year old, Nasrul Islam, was the only gang member to be brought to justice. Incredibly, the police released him on bail – only for him to mug a 12 year-old girl just days later. On his sentencing in March 2009, as an act of revenge, 30 youths attacked the George & Dragon and its customers with baseball bats (see: For months, LGBT people walking along Hackney Road were subject to abuse and assaults, pelted with stones and eggs.
The East London Mosque (ELM), the main mosque in East London, was quick to distance itself from, and to condemn, the “Gay Free Zone” stickers. It has, however, many links with the extremist Islamic Federation Of Europe (IFE), which seeks to impose Shariah law in Europe. The IFE was founded after Jamaat-e-Islam’s members fled Bangladesh during the violent struggle for independence in 1971. Some were wanted for murder and escaped justice by seeking asylum in London. Of 22 IFE trustees, only 5 have not also been trustees of themosque.
We must stop assuming that the ELM/IFE represent the larger Muslim community. There are 80,000 Muslims in Tower Hamlets. About 4,000 of them, or 5%, attend the ELM. Last June, a host of Tower Hamlets organisations, including the Bangladeshi Welfare Association, the Brick Lane Mosque, the Bangladesh Youth Association and numerous other other local groups signed a joint release condemning the IFE as fascist. (see:
In addition to its IFE connections, the ELM has also hosted numerous hate preachers who have promoted the most vicious homophobia imaginable over the years.
While it is doubtful that many gaybashers are regular mosque attendees, the ELM’s preachers have created an atmosphere in which hate is socially acceptable; they have spread a message in which maiming and violence is the most dutiful, honourable, devout thing to do.
The preacher Uthman Lateef, who even hosted a gala dinner to highlight the Mosque’s supposed commitment to combatting homophobia earlier this year, is on record as saying to students at nearby Queen Mary University of London in 2007: “We don’t accept homosexuality… we hate it because Allah hates it”.
At the adjacent London Muslim Centre, Abdul Karim Hattin incorporated a ‘spot the fag’ contest into his sermon, with images of Elton John and the bloody corpse of a slain 2Pac at the mortuary.
He is quoted as saying: ‘This image will show you to the reality when you try to live a life you don’t live, and proclaim a life you never had…. So this man who proclaimed the gangster and fag – FAG – lifestyle: he ended up nothing more than a dead body on an autopsy table.” (2007)
Another preacher, Khalid Yasin, said: “The Koran gives very clear position regarding homosexuality, lesbianism and bestiality – these are aberrations, they are immoralities and …if convicted, punishable by death.”
Abdullah Hakim Quick who has led Friday prayers, also said in a speech at Kings College London: “They said, what is the Islamic position on homosexuality? And I told them. Put my name in the paper! The punishment is death. And I’m not going to change this religion.”
And Abdul Raheem Green on his blog called for gays to be stoned to death.
Bilal Philips, another who has led Friday prayers, wrote ‘the punishment could be death… it’s a punishment for deviant behaviour which threatens the family structure of a society.
Yasir Qahdi, another who has led Friday prayers, advised Muslim gays to marry a woman.
Despite all this, the East London Mosque claims to have no responsibility over those who speak there. The East London Mosque also claims to be opposed to the “gay-free zone” campaign and homophobia. We demand that the East London Mosque live up to its stated word, take ownership of its platform, and stop allowing its premises to be used to promote gayhate campaigns.
Julie Bindel, Journalist and Feminist Campaigner
David Bridle, Managing Editor of London’s gay weekly Boyz Magazine
Paul Burston, Author, Journalist, Editor of Time Out’s Gay & Lesbian Section. Named one of the 101 most influential gay people in the UK in the Independent’s Pink List in 2010 for fourth year running.
Darren Cooper, Senior Consultant at Out Now Consulting
Alex Hopkins, Journalist, Editor; Publisher, Dissident Musings blog
Colm Howard-Lloyd, Trustee, Pride London
Mandy McCartin, Artist and Resident of East London
Mac McDermott, Publisher, HOMOVISIONTV
Linda Riley, Managing Director, Square Peg Media, Publishers of g3, Out in the City and Pride London Magazines
Paul Shetler, Human Rights Activist, Coordinator of London 2011 Summer of Love Campaign
Ian Sinclair Romanis, Gay Man and Resident of Hackney
Adrian Tippetts, Human Rights Campaigner and Journalist

Truth Wins Out Calls On Comedian Tracy Morgan to Respond to Allegations of Anti-Gay Tirade Onstage at Nashville Show

Truth Wins Out logo
Friday, June 10, 2011

Contact: Wayne Besen, Executive Director
Phone: 917-691-5118

TWO Calls on Comedian Tracy Morgan to Respond to Allegations of Anti-Gay Tirade Onstage in Nashville

Publicist Response to Allegations:  "No Comment."

MEMPHIS - Truth Wins Out is alarmed at allegations that well-known comedian Tracy Morgan departed from his usual stand-up routine to unleash an anti-gay tirade during his June 3 performance at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.

Eyewitness Kevin Rogers, who attended with his partner and a friend, gives a firsthand account which describes how Morgan's entire demeanor changed as he allegedly claimed that being gay is a choice, that homosexuality is something that kids learn from the media, and that gay youth victims of bullying are simply "whining." Furthermore, he allegedly said that if his son was gay and "whined" about being a bullying victim, he would kill him, using words that will not be repeated here.  Morgan is also said to have called upon President Obama to "man up" and stop speaking out for LGBT kids.

According to the report, these were only some of the most egregious parts of this anti-gay tirade. When reached for comment by several reporters, his publicist responded simply, "No comment."

"In an era when strong role models like CNN's Don Lemon are coming out, and public figures from the San Francisco Giants to the President of the United States are loudly proclaiming their support for LGBT youth victims of anti-gay bullying, it is disgraceful for any role model to inject such hatred into the discourse," said Truth Wins Out Director of Social Media Evan Hurst.

"The last year has seen far too many reports of gay or gay-perceived youth either attempting or completing suicide as a result of anti-gay bullying," Continued Hurst. "It is highly disturbing that Morgan and his representatives have chosen not to comment on this. In light of the current climate toward LGBT youth in many parts of the country, and considering the fact that this is far from the first time Morgan has been accused of homophobia, I would think these allegations deserve a response."

Tracy Morgan has been accused of on-stage homophobia before, most notably after a 2009 Carnegie Hall performance, which reportedly elicited gasps and walkouts from the audience.  If the accuracy of the Nashville account is confirmed, it would seem that his hatred has reached a new level.

Morgan has worked under 30 Rock writer and producer Tina Fey since 2006. Ms. Fey has a long record of supporting LGBT causes, and so we would ask her to respond to these allegations as well. Was Fey aware of this alleged "comedy" in Morgan's show?  Regardless, we would ask that she forthrightly condemn any sort of anti-gay hatred coming from one of her 30 Rock stars.

"I went to Tracy Morgan's show to laugh and enjoy someone who I thought was a brilliant comic," said Kevin Rogers, who was in the audience that night."
"I left feeling like the joke was on me."

LGBT people are still fighting for equality all across America, and many of our teens are still very much at risk.  Sadly, reports of gay youth taking their own lives due to anti-gay bullying have become all too common.  Tennessee's gay teens are in particular danger as the state legislature has endeavored over the past year to make life as difficult as possible for them, going as far as to move a bill prohibiting teachers from even acknowledging their existence in schools. Tracy Morgan is a role model to many young people, including gay kids.  If these reports are true, Mr. Morgan owes them, and us all, a full apology.

"Tracy Morgan needs to respond to these allegations," said Hurst. "Comedians have long pushed the envelope in tackling controversial subjects.  Indeed, it's part of their job description, and good comedians are able to do this and keep everybody laughing at the same time.  However, abject hatred directed at vulnerable kids is not comedy, by anyone's definition.  If these reports are true, we expect a full explanation and apology.  'No comment' simply will not do."

Truth Wins Out is a non-profit organization that fights anti-LGBT religious extremism. TWO specializes in turning information into action by organizing, advocating and fighting for LGBT equality.


TWO Responds to Tracy Morgans Anti-Gay Meltdown

Tracy Morgan has apologized for, and thus confirmed, the anti-gay meltdown he had in Nashville onstage at the Ryman Auditorium:
"I want to apologize to my fans and the gay and lesbian community for my choice of words at my recent stand-up act in Nashville. I'm not a hateful person and don't condone any kind of violence against others. While I am an equal opportunity jokester, and my friends know what is in my heart, even in a comedy club this clearly went too far and was not funny in any context."
We at Truth Wins Out appreciate Tracy's apology.  We are glad that he recognizes that he hurt and offended people. However, questions, sadly, remain.  When Michael Richards andMel Gibson had their respective meltdowns, people rightly asked where those sentiments actually came from.  And the fact of the matter is, parts of Tracy's Nashville rant have appeared in earlier performances.

So we wonder:  Where do Tracy Morgan's anti-gay sentiments come from?  What leads him to go only so far with anti-gay sentiments and then suddenly let loose with one of the most vicious tirades imaginable?  Does he understand why people -- LGBT or not, in Tennessee and beyond -- were so hurt by what he said?

Again, we appreciate that he recognized a need to come forward and apologize.  But is the damage already done?   

Tracy Morgan should be an "equal-opportunity jokester." Sarah SilvermanLisa Lampanelliand Zack Galiafanakis are. Richard Pryor certainly was.  In this case, though, there still seems to be a certain animus involved, as well as a pattern, that we don't quite understand.  Will this be the last time Tracy Morgan makes the news for unleashing anger against gay people?  We certainly hope so, but only Tracy Morgan can effectively answer these questions.

Truth Wins Out is a non-profit organization that fights anti-LGBT religious extremism. TWO specializes in turning information into action by organizing, advocating and fighting for LGBT equality.

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How did WikiQueer start?

As told by Gregory Varnum, founder of the WikiQueer and it's parent organization, The Aequalitas Project:
I'd been developing the idea for a queer specific wiki for a few years. I've helped with dozens of pages and projects on Wikipedia and helped start a number of wikis designed for queer related projects. However, I consistently came back to the need for a wiki by and for the queer community free of any organization politics or turf wars. Partly because there was some content that no other wikis, including Wikipedia, would house and also because I was increasingly frustrated at having to defend why an important transgender individual or grassroots organization was worthy of inclusion on other wikis.
In early 2011 as I was developing a new venture, The Aequalitas Project, I was actually already underway with the basis of what became WikiQueer. The timing seemed ideal to launch the project as a part of this larger project to help catapult it forward.
The decision was soon made to make WikiQueer a founding pilot program of The Aequalitas Project. Both are still in their infancy, and I hope if you're inspired by either, you will learn more about how you can contribute.

Where does WikiQueer receive its funding?

Initial resources were provided by The Aequalitas Project and VarnEnt. However, initial development of the WikiQueer depends on volunteer authors like you! Funding from foundations and individuals is also being sought to help with training, advertising and community outreach efforts. Visit The Aequalitas Project's online contribution system to make a donation in support of these efforts.

What about Wikipedia's LGBT studies WikiProject?

We have complete respect, appreciation and affection for both Wikipedia and its LGBT studies WikiProject! WikiQueer is not meant as a competitor to that project - but as a supplement. There are a number of resources designed for WikiQueer that would not meet Wikipedia's criteria. Either because of Wikipedia's justifiably more stringent citation requirements or simply falling outside the scope of Wikipedia's intent.
For example, talking points on important public policy matters would not be permitted. Nor would promotional style information on services or resources made available by LGBT organizations. There are also a number of important queer figures that have been removed repeatedly from Wikipedia whose history is recorded here without threat of deletion.
In the spirit of Citizendium and Enciclopedia Libre Universal en Español - among other Wikipedia inspired projects - WikiQueer hopes to take what was started and continues to develop at Wikipedia and provide additional benefits for an audience specifically interested in all things LGBTQA.
In special recognition of the efforts of the LGBT Project and others at Wikipedia, you may notice the Wikipedia LGBT Project logo present on articles. In a similar manner to how we recognize contributions from Content Partners, we like to provide recognition for how important their contributions have been to this undertaking.
If you like what you see here at WikiQueer - please consider supporting the efforts of Wikipedia's LGBT studies WikiProject as well.

"Loving" and the Fight for Marriage Equality

To commemorate the 44th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court's decision that that struck down laws that forbade African Americans and whites from marrying, AFER's co-counsel in the Prop. 8 case, Ted Olson and David Boies, recorded a special message. They talk about how the Loving case set an important precedent for the current fight for marriage equality.

Psycho Talk - Herman Cain: "Homosexuality Is A Sin And A Choice"

On the Glenn Beck show, Herman Cain said he would require proof from Muslims they were loyal to America before they work for the United States government.

Rachel Maddow Slams Santorum For Covering For Ensign Then Calling For Weiner To Resign

Rick Santorum with his pious, superior family values, alerted Sen. John Ensign in 2009 that the husband of Ensign's mistress wanted to go public with the affair. Santorum never called for friend, John Ensign to resign but he has called for Rep. Anthony Weiner to.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ben & Jerry for HRC's NYers for Marriage Equality

Ice Cream makers Ben & Jerry support marriage equality. Do you?

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

BREAKING THIS HOUR: ORBITZ RESPONDS TO MEDIA MATTERS' DROP FOX CAMPAIGN, AGREES TO REVIEW POLICY (via Courage Campaign/MMfA release) - After a three-week campaign by high-profile LGBT organizations urging Orbitz to examine numerous examples of rampant anti-LGBT bigotry on News Corp's Fox News Channel, the gay-friendly travel agency has agreed to review its advertising policy to ensure that it spends its ad dollars on networks that are consistent with its core corporate values of tolerance and non-discrimination. Read the original letter: Learn more:
ORBITZ STATEMENT RELEASED MOMENTS AGO: "Orbitz has heard from the LGBT community about its concerns that its advertisements appear on programs which have objectionable content. ...In the coming weeks, Orbitz will conduct a review of programming on the full range of media we buy. We will also evaluate the best practices among other companies who share our core values to see what approaches they use when evaluating media placements."
EFFORTS INTENSIFY ON NEW YORK MARRIAGE (via Richard Socarides, Equality Matters) - “With only 12 days remaining before the scheduled adjournment of the New York State Legislature, efforts have intensified to get a deal as early as next week for a marriage equality bill. Even though gay marriage advocates appear six votes short of a majority in the New York State Senate (32 votes are needed) there is increasing optimism that a unique combination of factors may come together and produce a victory.”
DISCUSSED ON THE PODCAST - The latest on the marriage battle in New York, plus EQM’s Carlos Maza on what the National Organization for Marriage is doing now. The weekly Equality Matters podcast is available for free download on iTunes:
LONG ISLAND FIREFIGHTER SUPPORTS MARRIAGE EQUALITY (via HRC) - In an online video, 25-year volunteer firefighter, Mike Vissichelli of Long Island spoke out in favor of marriage equality, saying: “Loving gay and lesbian couples should be able to go to city hall and get a marriage license. ... Nothing says family like marriage.”
PIERS MORGAN TO MITT ROMNEY (via Towleroad) - MORGAN: Do you personally think homosexuality is a sin? ROMNEY: Nice try, but I'm not going to get into -- MORGAN: That's a valid question, isn't it? ROMNEY: It's a valid question and my answer is nice try.
HAPPENING MONDAY - Attorneys for the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) will be back in district court to address a motion by the Prop. 8 defense to throw out the historic decision that ruled Prop. 8 unconstitutional on the grounds that the judge should have recused himself because he is gay and in a long-term relationship. Legal experts, former judges, and news organizations across the nation have come down strongly against the Prop. 8 defense’s effort, calling it “absurd,” “slimy,” and “deeply offensive.”
BREAKING VIA THINKPROGRESS LGBT (via Igor Volsky) - “Target Chairman and CEO Gregg Steinhafel said the company will remain ‘neutral’ on a constitutional amendment in Minnesota that seeks to ban same-sex marriages. ‘Our position at this particular time is, we are going to be neutral on this particular issue,’ Steinhafel replied. He added, ‘When it comes to particularly sensitive issues, we’re going to continue to monitor and continue to assess.’ Target has long had a good reputation in the LGBT community, but came under criticism last summer after it was discovered that it gave $150,000 to support anti-gay Republican candidate Tom Emmer in Minnesota.”
CNN THREE-PART SPECIAL: “THE SISSY BOY EXPERIMENT” - Tonight Part III will air on AC 360 beginning at 10 p.m. ET. Part’s I and II aired earlier this week. The full story is available online:
MITCH ALBOM AND THE FREAK OUT OVER “GENDERLESS” BABY (via Equality Matters) - “Mitch Albom is the best-selling author of Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet In Heaven. Now, he’s also the author of an embarrassingly uninformed column in the Detroit Free Press, attacking a Canadian couple that recently decided to keep the sex of their 4-month old child, Storm, private. The parents, Kathy Witterick and David Strocker, recently chose to keep Storm’s sex private in order to protect the child from being inundated with societal messages about what a boy or girl should look, appear, and behave like.”
MAJOR NEWS OUTLETS FUMBLE IN REPORTING CDC STUDY ON LGBT YOUTH (via Equality Matters) - “A new study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has found that LGBT students are more likely to engage in unhealthy risk behaviors - including tobacco use, alcohol use, sexual risk behaviors, and suicide - than their heterosexual peers. According to a CDC official, the report pointed to the incredible impact that ‘stigma, discrimination, and victimization’ can have on the health of LGBT youth. … The overwhelming majority of major news outlets failed to highlight the reason why LGBT youth experienced such disproportionate health risks.”
ANTI-LGBT VIOLENCE IN PUERTO RICO (via HRC) – “It has been reported that three LGBT Puerto Ricans have been found dead over the past several days and 18 LGBT Puerto Ricans have been murdered over the last year and a half.  Yesterday, it was reported that Ramón ‘Moncho’ Salgado was found dead along the side of a highway; Karlota Gómez Sánchez, a transgender woman, was found shot to death at an intersection on Monday; and Alejandro Torres Torres was found stabbed to death earlier in the weekend.”
19-YEAR-OLD WANTS TO CRIMINALIZE HOMOSEXUALITY (via Equality Matters) - “On Tuesday, WND posted some ‘exclusive commentary’ by Josh Craddock, a 19-year-old rising sophomore at King’s College in New York who isn’t too happy with the way things are going in the fight over LGBT equality. Craddock criticizes social conservative groups like Focus on the Family for refusing to advocate for the criminalization of homosexual behavior, arguing that the fight over same-sex marriage has been a ‘diversion’ away from the ‘real battle’ over the ‘morality of homosexuality itself.’ ”
SMITHSONIAN EXHIBIT MARKS 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF AIDS (via The Washington Post) - “The display case at the National Museum of American History holds a section of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, a tactile reminder of the individual lives lost to the virus. … Bob Witeck, an activist and co-founder of a communications firm specializing in gay issues, said the Smithsonian observation is timely. ‘Right now 9/11 has to be explained to younger people — HIV and AIDS far more so.’ ”
30 YEARS OF ACTIVISM ON HIV/AIDS (via Brian Bond, The White House) - “As someone living with HIV, this is very personal for me. We stand on the shoulders of many that are now gone, and those who continue to fight today. The ‘Champions’ that we met with are living examples of both the progress and challenges we have faced over the past 30 years. We are making progress—the number of new infections has declined among infants born with HIV and injection drug users, but we are now seeing rising infections in gay and bisexual men. Re-engaging the public, particularly the LGBT community, in prevention education and fighting stigma is crucial.”
WHITE HOUSE TO HOST PRIDE CELEBRATION (via Washington Blade) - “The White House plans to host a reception on June 29 to commemorate the month as Pride, the Washington Blade has learned. Two sources who are familiar with the event, and agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, said invitees were told to come June 29. A White House official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said the celebration would take place before the month is out, but didn’t confirm the date and said further information isn’t yet available.”
WHITE HOUSE “SIDESTEPS” DEPORTATION MORATORIUM (via Metro Weekly) - “Asked [Wednesday] to explain the difference between a 2009 moratorium on deporting certain widows and widowers of U.S. citizens and the White House's failure to take up advocates' request that a similar moratorium be issued to stop the deportation of the foreign same-sex partner of U.S. citizens, White House press secretary Jay Carney provided no direct answer -- only reiterating the president's support for comprehensive immigration reform and belief it can happen ‘in the future.’ ”
GATES URGED TO CERTIFY “DON’T ASK” REPEAL (via Washington Blade) - “Supporters of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal are calling for imminent action to implement open service in the U.S. military before Defense Secretary Robert Gates leaves his position at the end of this month. Advocates of open service say delaying certification for repeal after Gates retires on June 30 could unnecessarily add to the time before ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is off the books.”
FRANK WRITES THE PRESIDENT ON REPEAL AMENDMENTS (via release) - “Congressman Barney Frank [on Monday] released a letter addressed to President Obama, requesting that he formally threaten to veto the Defense Authorization bill if it contains language that could undermine the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ Frank was joined in his appeal to the President by Representatives Tammy Baldwin, Jared Polis and David Cicilline.” Read the letter:
DISCHARGED SERVICE MEMBER WROTE LETTER TO SECRETARY (via Metro Weekly) - “An Air Force spokesman told reporters that the April 29 discharge of an Airman under ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell’ -- the first such discharge since heightened procedures for discharge were instituted in October 2010 -- was based on a statement from the Airman that he was gay.”
NOM PEDDLES ADOPTION BILL DISTORTIONS (via Equality Matters) - “The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) posted an article from LifeSiteNews warning about a new federal bill - the Every Child Deserves a Family Act (ECDFA) - that would ‘effectively ban US Christian adoption agencies.’ In reality, the bill would require entities that receive federal assistance or contract with an entity that receives federal assistance from denying service to people on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.”
VICTORY FUND TO HONOR COLLINS (via Washington Blade) - “The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund has selected a Republican U.S. senator to honor with an award for her work last year in building GOP support for ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal. The Victory Fund will award Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) with the 2011 Gay & Lesbian Leadership Award at the event, which will take place Oct. 5 in D.C.”
KEEPING AN EYE ON THE STATES - The state of equality weekly round-up by Equality Matters:
44,000 ATTEND DETROIT MOTOR CITY PRIDE (via Between The Lines/PrideSource) -