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Saturday, July 16, 2011

San Diego sailors march in gay pride parade

Military personnel march down University Avenue during the San Diego gay pride parade July 16 in San Diego, California. About 200 active-duty troops and veterans from every branch of the military participated for the first time in the march as the ban on the government policy on homosexuals serving in armed forces, or "Don't ask Don't Tell", remains in flux in the justice system.
Seems like they are ignoring "Don't ask Don't Tell" in San Diego.
Many of the active-duty troops said they were moved to come out because it is time to end the military's ban on openly gay troops. The march comes a day after a federal appeals court reinstated the "don't ask, don't tell" policy but with a caveat that prevents the government from investigating or penalizing anyone who is openly gay.

Ben Cohen, Michael Irvin, Hudson Taylor, Nick Youngquest Talk Gay Rights

Five openly straight professional athletes – Ben Cohen, Michael Irvin, Hudson Taylor, Nick Youngquest and Mike Chabala – talk gay rights in the latest issue of gay glossy Out.
A shirtless Irving graces the cover of the magazine's sports issue.
In his profile, the NFL Hall of Famer talks about his late brother, who was gay, and how his sexual orientation was not discussed in the family, and relates a story about how he found out his brother was a cross-dresser.
Driving with his father at the age of 12, they came upon his older brother Vaughn walking down the street wearing women's clothes.
“My dad looked back at me and said, 'Yes, that's your brother. And you love your brother,'” Irving said.
Irving added that he's ready to support an openly gay professional athlete.
Cohen retired from playing rugby in the UK earlier this year to head his anti-homophobia campaign, the Ben Cohen Stand Up Foundation.
“The time is right now to retire from rugby and follow my new passion,” Cohen said during a videotaped interview. “People have the right to be happy and, you know, to be loved and love others.” (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page.)
Twenty-seven-year-old Houston Dynamo Mike Chabala posed last year for the NOH8 Campaign, which raises awareness and funds for gay rights causes.
He told the magazine that he would support an openly gay soccer player.
“The treatment of gay people isn't a liberal or conservative issue,” he said, “it's a human rights issue.”
Australian rugby player Nick Youngquest also talked about supporting an openly gay teammate. The six-foot player with a huge gay following added that he believes in marriage equality: “I don't see any reason why gay people shouldn't be able to marry. I think it should be a union of two people in love. Why not?”
Columbia University wrestling coach Hudson Taylor is doing more than talking; he started Athlete Ally to fight homophobic speech in sports.
“There are a lot of ways you can be an ally, but for what I'm aiming at in sports, it's a pretty simple equation: making the sports community more respectful simply by being conscious of your words,” Taylor told the magazine.

STEVE HAYES: Tired Old Queen at the Movies - #79

An unconventional three-way love affair is the basis of John Schelsinger's landmark film SUNDAY, BLOODY SUNDAY. Taken from an original script by Penelope Gilliatt, it deals with a young bi-sexual artist (MURRAY HEAD) who is having simultaneous affairs with a middle-aged doctor (PETER FINCH) and a thirtyish career woman (GLENDA JACKSON). Both love the artist, both want him exclusively, both want him to settle down, and both are unhappy at having to settle for what he can give them. All three are decent people in need of love, passion and understanding. All three are unable to satisfy the people that love them, let alone themselves. Nominated for 4 Oscars including Finch, Jackson, Gilliatt and Schesinger as Best Director, it's all about love in all its madness and messiness and one of the most intelligent films on the subject ever made.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ireland Confronts the Vatican

Throughout the long scandal of sexual abuse by rogue priests, the Vatican has blatantly resisted the idea that civil law must trump church rules in confronting criminal acts. This was evident again in the revelation that the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland continued to cover up abuse cases long after it had issued rules to protect children in 1996.
“The law of the land should not be stopped by crosier or by collar,” Prime Minister Enda Kenny declared after receiving a detailed report on Wednesday showing that abuses were occurring as recently as 2009.
A principal factor in the cover-up, the government study found, was a Vatican letter in 1997 warning Irish church leaders against full cooperation with law enforcement authorities. The papal representative wrote that the anti-abuse policies conflicted with church law and should be considered “merely a study document.”
This turned criminal law on its head and, as the study noted, gave bishops “freedom to ignore” the tougher rules and protect abusers in the church. In the diocese of Cloyne, investigated in detail by the Dublin government, church officials did not act on complaints against 19 priests in the 13 years after the rules were put in place.
The new findings showed that the abuse was not confined to previous generations. “This is about Ireland now,” said Frances Fitzgerald, Ireland’s minister for children. As usual, apologies were offered, this time by John Magee, the longtime bishop of Cloyne, who resigned last year. Bishop Magee had been accused of improperly embracing a seminarian, but that allegation was dismissed.
With the pedophilia scandal under investigation worldwide, Vatican officials point to new, tougher rules. But the rules, which do not require dioceses to report allegations of crimes to the police, are considered only advisory guidelines to bishops. The Dublin government has enacted a new law making it a crime for anyone, church officials included, to fail to report child abuse to civil authorities. The Vatican has a valuable lesson to learn in Ireland.

The Gay Golden Years

By Tim Louis Macaluso -

Pittsford residents Marvin Ritzenthaler, left, and Steven Jarose.
When Bud, an elderly gay man who lives in a Rochester-area residential community for seniors, posted news clippings outside his door regarding same-sex marriage, the reaction he got from other residents was not overwhelmingly positive.
"Some of the pictures were taken down," he says. "Once someone pinned note paper covering over a picture."
It was a little intimidating, Bud says. It's also an example of a culture that can be deeply entrenched in some traditional nursing and assisted-living homes: prejudice that can have a profound emotional impact on elderly members of the LGBT community.
Though Bud, who recently celebrated his 84th birthday, is out, he's still cautious. He lives alone and he asked that his last name not be printed.
"I've always been me," he says. "But I've been careful not to out myself to the wrong people."
Bud is certainly not the first gay man to move into a senior-living community. But he is part of a population of seniors that is gradually becoming more visible both nationally and locally.
Gay culture is sometimes criticized for its exaggerated emphasis on youth, but there is growing awareness about older members of the LGBT community - people who have reached their mid-60's, and are living into their 70's, 80's, and 90's. What do we know about them? What are their concerns? Are senior-living communities and nursing homes becoming more accepting of their gay clients? And how do they treat gay couples?
After New York passed same-sex marriage legislation last month, Bud found a message posted outside his door. Someone wrote a note saying, "Congratulations on gay marriage. I'm so proud to live in a state that's leaning toward equality."
"That really put a smile on my face," he says.
But Bud's experience of gradual acceptance, though a good sign, is not shared by all LGBT seniors. In some respects, LGBT seniors face the same issues and daily trials that many seniors face: less mobility, limited incomes, and managing illnesses.
But LGBT seniors often confront those issues along with the injustices and abuses that accompany discrimination. And elderly LGBT people frequently find themselves in a strange and unexpected predicament: while they have lived through the liberating gay-rights movement, they often discover that they stand to lose some of those freedoms in what are supposed to be their golden years.
"Many elderly LGBT people were not out through most of their lives, and they learned the importance of hiding," says Scott Fearing, program director for the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley. "Some [LGBT seniors] tend to go back into the closet," he says.
Unlike LGBT youth today, who are used to seeing gay characters positively portrayed on television and in film, LGBT seniors remember a time when it wasn't safe to be out.
In the early 20th century, homosexuality was viewed as something beyond scandalous, and could result in the loss of a job or housing. Given the history of discrimination toward LGBT people, it's understandable why many LGBT seniors are reluctant about being out.
Part of it, too, may be due to an increased sense of vulnerability that sometimes comes with aging, Fearing says.
Hiding may also help explain why it is sometimes difficult to find solid data concerning LGBT seniors. According to "Outing Age 2010," a publication by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, most of the research until recently has focused on elderly gay males. Much less research has been done on lesbians, and relatively little research has focused on bisexual and transgender seniors. This can present problems in health care, Fearing says. Little is known, for example, about the long-term use of hormones among transgender seniors, he says, or how the hormones will interact with other medications.
Researchers estimate that there are between two million and seven million elderly LGBT people living in the US today. And studies indicate that living in social and economic marginalization extracts a toll from LGBT seniors. Compared to their heterosexual peers, LGBT seniors are at greater risk of isolation, poverty, and homelessness.
The majority of LGBT seniors live alone, while their heterosexual peers are much more likely to live with their children or a caretaking family member. And research shows that seniors who live alone are at much greater risk of serious injuries, depression, and alcohol abuse.
And contrary to the stereotype that often portrays gays as financially secure with plenty of disposable income, research indicates that a significant percentage of LGBT seniors face financial difficulties in their later years.
Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders in New York City reported that about 35 percent of its clients in 2009 were Medicaid eligible with annual pretax incomes below $10,000. The situation is especially troubling for transgender seniors. Though they are typically more educated than the general population, transgender seniors are twice as likely to live below the poverty line, according to the California-based Transgender Law Center.
While many LGBT seniors slip back into the closet, others struggle to remain out: they dread transitioning into a nursing home or assisted living community, says Brian Hurlburt of Rainbow SAGE of the Genesee Valley. Many LGBT seniors have wrestled for years with being honest about their sexual orientation, Hurlburt says, and they don't want to go back in time.
"They really fear that they can't be who they are during these years," Hurlburt says.
For instance, they might be afraid to share close living quarters with heterosexual seniors who, for personal or religious reasons, still look at LGBT people through a 1950's lens.
"Fear of having to go back into the closet is overwhelming for them," Hurlburt says. "Some just can't do it."
Rainbow SAGE, the local chapter of the national SAGE organization, is one of several local groups working to alleviate these fears. The group holds social activities such as pot lucks, picnics, and holiday celebrations.
But SAGE is also active in advocacy and cultural competency training. Members speak to health-care workers, caregivers, and nursing and assisted-living workers who are in daily contact with LGBT seniors.
"The big word everyone wants to hear is ‘acceptance,'" says Saundra Ehman, SAGE member and a long-time Rochester advocate for LGBT seniors. "We're pigeon-holed. When you say the words ‘gay' and ‘lesbian,' many straight people immediately focus on the person's sexuality. That's just a small part of what we're talking about. We're talking about making the person comfortable being themselves. They deserve that."
Ehman says she remembers hearing a nurse in one home refer to an elderly gay man as "just an old queer." She says the incident was so disturbing that she couldn't forget it.
"That kind of abuse is why people are afraid," she says. "And this is what we're trying to change."
LGBT seniors who need to enter a nursing home want to be assured that they are going to be treated with respect, Hurlburt says. When LGBT couples aren't allowed to share a room, it only increases the sense of isolation for both people, he says.
But there are signs that cultural sensitivity training may be working.
"We're always trying to make sure that we're culturally aware and sensitive to all segments of the [senior] community," says Mary Kanerva, Catholic Family Center's director of aging adult services.
The organization's mission is to help people remain independent for as long as possible, she says.
"I think it's very important that we alleviate the fears," she says. "We really try to meet every person where they are."
And in some regions of the country - California, Arizona, and Florida, for example - there are a few "affinity" retirement communities, designed with the LGBT client in mind. The 10-acre Fountaingrove Lodge in Santa Rosa, California bills itself as the first gay continuing-care retirement community in the country.
Though progress is being made, society still has a long way to go before meeting the needs of LGBT seniors, says local attorney Jennifer Gravitz. And much of the problem, she says, is linked to institutionalized homophobia and discrimination.
As well-meaning as the medical, legal, and social-work communities are, she says, the problems are deeply entrenched.
Institutionalized homophobia creates its own unique form of suppression on LGBT seniors, Gravitz says, and it tends to impact them at the worst possible time - when they are living on limited incomes, coping with a chronic illness, or when a partner needs long-term care.
"First, we have to consider the mindset of people who are in their 60's, 70's, and 80's," she says. "They may not be aware of their choices, or they are fearful if they share who they are, they'll be further marginalized, punished, or denied services that they truly need."
The institutionalized challenges LGBT seniors face range from laws affecting inheritance to benefits. LGBT couples have no automatic right to inherit from a partner or spouse. They face higher taxation on an inheritance on deferred benefits, such as an IRA or pension. And surviving LGBT partners are not always eligible to receive deferred benefits.
"There are many benefits still today that domestic partners cannot receive, the military's being one of them," Gravitz says. "The preclusion of being able to receive Social Security from a deceased partner is another."
Gravitz is also troubled by an actuarial issue, particularly as it relates to financial and long-term planning. Most of the planning models are designed for heterosexual couples where it is well known statistically that women tend to outlive their husbands by about seven years.
"But what happens to those models when you have a family of two men?" she says.
Statistically, the two could become critically ill and pass away within a few years of each other. A family of two women, however, could each live, according to statistics, for years with disabling illnesses. What's the unique impact on each of those families, she says, when the planning models used are not typically designed with their needs in mind?
But the biggest discriminatory hurdle most LGBT seniors face has to do with Medicaid. While a short list of states have legalized same-sex marriage, the Defense of Marriage Act still prevails. The federal legislation signed into law in 1996 by former President Bill Clinton defines marriage as an act between one man and one woman, and it has direct influence over Medicaid rules.
Medicaid was designed to care for the truly poor, Gravitz says, who require the chronic care of a nursing home. A heterosexual couple can spend down or transfer assets to, for example, help the wife qualify to enter a nursing home. But the husband is allowed to keep the house and all of its equity, which can amount to thousands of dollars. The law does not impoverish the husband or the heterosexual "community spouse" in order to make sure the patient or wife receives the care she needs.
But domestic partners or legally married LGBT couples aren't recognized by Medicaid law.
"They are legal strangers to one another," Gravitz says. "It means that the house that they purchased decades ago and is paid off now has to be divided in half. And the community partner, the person not going into the nursing home, now has to buy back his or her own house."
Joint accounts are presumed to be the assets of the person requiring Medicaid, unless the community partner can prove ownership of half of the money, she says.
"That's just how the Medicaid rules are written," Gravitz says. "Unlike the community heterosexual spouse who is permitted to keep a certain amount of income, savings, and a car, all of that has to be liquidated. And the gay or lesbian community partner gets nothing. We've accomplished the opposite of what Congress intended for the heterosexual spouses."
This means the LGBT senior and community partner, who may be emotionally and physically frail, too, could now be made destitute so the ill partner will qualify for Medicaid and accepted into a nursing home.
"I can think of nothing more cruel or inhumane," Gravitz says.

Obama Administration Asks Court To Reconsider Order Blocking DADT

The Obama administration asked a federal appeals court in California to reconsider its order last week temporarily blocking the U.S. military from enforcing its "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on gays and lesbians serving in the military. U.S. officials have been moving ahead with dismantling the policy but had objected to having the courts force the government to officially repeal it at this time.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Governor Brown Signs Historic Gay History Bill in CA

California has become the first state in the nation to require public schools to teach students about the historical contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday morning signed SB 48, which adds LGBT people — as well as various ethnic minorities and people with disabilities — to the list of groups that social studies classes must cover. It also prohibits discrimination against those groups in school-sponsored activities and instructional materials.
The Legislature had approved the bill last week, voting largely along party lines.
"History should be honest," Brown said in a statement. "This bill revises existing laws that prohibit discrimination in education and ensures that the important contributions of Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life are included in our history books."

Democratic state Sen. Mark Leno of San Francisco, who sponsored the bill, said it is an important step toward "first-class citizenship" for the LGBT community. "Denying LGBT people their rightful place in history gives our young people an inaccurate and incomplete view of the world around them," he said in a statement.
On a conference call with reporters Thursday afternoon, Leno said that "we have been censoring an important chapter of American history."
He told a story about a sixth grader who beat one of his classmates to death in 2008 for being "too girly," adding, "We are failing our students if we do not instruct them that there are differences between us. When we deny them that, they determine they have a license to kill."
The law applies to classes from kindergarten through high school and will go into effect Jan. 1, 2012, though textbooks will not be reprinted to meet the requirement for several years, Leno said. Exactly how it is implemented will be up to individual school districts and classrooms.
“Of course, our eyes and ears are everywhere,” he said. “If there are classrooms ignoring this, it will become known and there will be attention brought to that.”
The bill had strong support among LGBT advocacy groups at a time when bullying of LGBT students gained national attention. “Today marks a monumental victory for the LGBT equality movement as the struggle of the diverse LGBT community in California will no longer be erased from history,” Equality California Executive Director Roland Palencia said.
It was opposed by Republicans, including Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of San Bernardino, who said it promoted a "homosexual agenda." The measure also provoked passionate debate among parents.
This isn't the first time the Legislature has prescribed lessons, according to the Associated Press. Past educational mandates have included the Irish potato famine and the Holocaust.

We have good news!

Yesterday we had a big win.
Last week, we told you about a couple in California, Doug and Alex, who were facing a nightmare scenario -- the deportation of Alex, a Venezuelan citizen, despite his marriage to American citizen Doug. If Doug and Alex were straight, they'd have no problem at all -- American citizens sponsor their opposite-sex partners every day.
Yesterday, as their life together hung in the balance, Doug and Alex got good news. After 17,000 petition signatures and a 75-person rally outside the courthouse, the immigration judge who heard their case ruled that -- unless the government opts to drop their case altogether -- she will defer the case until a later September 2013!
While this result certainly doesn't solve the threats of deportation, living in the shadows, green card denials, and forced exile, it's welcome news for the tens of thousands of couples living in the shadows from the Statue of Liberty to the Golden Gate Bridge.
Each of these cases -- Josh & Henry, Doug & Alex, and so many more -- help to chip away at the lived discrimination that LGBT Americans face each day. Each time we stand up for ourselves, for our families, for our friends, for our neighbors -- we stand up to the bigotry and intolerance that has haunted LGBT lives for so long.
It was an honor to organize with our friends at Stop the Deportations, Out4Immigration, Marriage Equality USA, and so many others -- and we were happy that yesterday, for the first time in a long time, Doug and Alex were finally able to smile.
These cases continue to unfold each day, and we'll continue to let you know about them -- and about ways to take action in order to impact the result. For today, though, we rest and we celebrate -- and we thank you for all you do to help us GetEQUAL!
For equality,
Heather Cronk
Managing Director, GetEQUAL
GetEQUAL icon

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Vatican Reverses Stance On Gay Marriage After Meeting Tony And Craig (from the Onion)

Vatican called "Tony&Craig a truly great match."
VATICAN CITY—In a stunning and unexpected reversal of long-standing doctrine, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed the Roman Catholic Church's unequivocal support for gay marriage Tuesday, just hours after meeting Stonington, CT couple Tony Ruggiero and Craig Housinger.
The papal decree—which authorizes priests to administer the sacrament of holy matrimony to same-sex partners and explicitly states that "homosexual relations between two consenting adults is not, and never has been, a sin"—was reportedly a direct result of the pope sharing an afternoon of engaging conversation and hearty laughter with the gay couple.
"Not only are Tony and Craig complete sweethearts, but anyone who spends more than two minutes with them can see they're clearly perfect for each other," said Benedict, who in the past has described homosexual behavior as a grave disease that threatens all of humanity. "They're fun, gracious, and simply wonderful company. And you can tell they have something special just by the way they look at each other."
"They're soulmates, really," added the pope, smiling. "Allowing them to formalize their union in the Church is the least we could do for them."
Vatican officials said the vacationing couple and the Supreme Pontiff met during a routine papal audience at St. Peter's Basilica, and "really hit it off" after discovering shared interests in photography, the piano, and Spanish cuisine.
Though sources said the 84-year-old Benedict, a lifelong scholar of antigay ecclesiastical law, initially appeared skeptical upon meeting the pair, he was reportedly put at ease after Housinger spoke a few humorous lines to the pope in his native German and Ruggiero effusively complimented his gold cuff links, touching off a friendly conversation that effectively upended 2,000 years of Roman Catholic teachings.
"They were witty and cultured, but also very friendly—I really don't meet too many people like that," the pope said of the couple, who excitedly suggested to him several off-the-beaten-path sights and "to die for" restaurants after he mentioned an upcoming trip to Buenos Aires. "Craig has a great passion for Italian painting, and I learned a lot from him about the Church's collection of Caravaggios. He's a real Renaissance man."
Pope Benedict XVI claims that any law
respecting the wishes of Tony and Craig
is "a law I support wholeheartedly."
"I know what scripture says about homosexuals, but when I stop to think about it, I can't get past the fact that the Bible is just a book, and Tony and Craig are real people," Benedict added. "Love is love. Man-woman, man-man, woman-woman—who cares? The Catholic Church recognizes it's not the Stone Age anymore."
Invited on a personal tour of the Vatican, Housinger and Ruggiero were said to have charmed the College of Cardinals with amusing anecdotes from their seven-year relationship, displaying a playful yet tender affection for each other that deeply moved the clergy.
High-ranking officials within the Holy See said they were pleased to learn both partners were practicing Catholics who attend mass regularly, and were surprised to discover Housinger was employed as a general contractor, a profession none of them considered gay at all.
According to reports, the highlight of the afternoon came when the couple shared photographs of their adopted 14-month-old Cambodian daughter, Lorraine, whom the swooning clergy universally described as "angelic."
"Even if you just meet Tony and Craig for a few minutes, it's easy to see how supportive and patient they are," said the Most Rev. Francesco Coccopalmerio, the Vatican's top expert on canon law, who noted the two partners have a stronger bond than some of the married couples he knows. "You can tell they've created a perfect household for a child to grow up in. I just wish everybody could be raised by parents as devoted and caring as them."
Following a warm farewell in which Ruggiero hugged Benedict—an incident the Holy Father described as "not even weird or anything"—Vatican leaders are said to have unanimously agreed that it was "completely hypocritical" for anyone, especially those who have taken a vow of celibacy, to tell people whom they can or cannot share their lives with.
"If Tony and Craig want to exchange vows before God and their friends and family, where's the harm in that?" Benedict said. "It's not as if they're offending the sanctity of life, like those wicked birth control users who will toil for all eternity in hellfire."

Chilean government to propose legal recognition for gay and straight unmarried couples

By Nan Hunter -
The government of President Sebastian Pinera Sa of Chile will present a bill to the national legislature that would grant legal rights to gay and straight couples who have lived together for more than one year, according to La Tercera and the English-language Santiago Times. The proposed status would be called "Acuerdo de Convivencia No Matrimonial" (ACNM), translated as Non-Marital Cohabitation Agreements.
President Pinera was elected as the conservative alternative to a more progressive incumbent. In last month's March for Sexual Diversity, demonstrators protested Pinera's failure to keep his promise to back a civil unions bill. He has now announced his intention to submit the legislation, although it was unclear whether his party (UDI) would support it. Similar bills have been introduced in the Chilean Congress since 2009.
If the bill passes, Chile (yellow on the map, along with Venezuela, which also has pending legislation) will join Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Uruguay (light blue) in having laws similar to civil unions or the French PACS for unmarried partners. Argentina has legalized same-sex marriage (dark blue).
From The Santiago Times:
Chilean President Sebastián Piñera passed his proposal that allows for gay partners who live together for at least a year to apply for civil union to members of his Alianza coalition on Monday.

After increasing demands for the president to address the issue, he released details of the “Acuerdo de Conviviencia No Matrimonial,” or Non-Marriage Living Agreement (ACNM), so that members of both the Renovación Nacional (RN) and the Unión Demócrata Independiente (UDI) parties can examine the proposal before Piñera’s team submits a formal proposal to Congress.

The preliminary text of the agreement calls it “a contract that two people, of the same or different sex, can celebrate with the idea of regulating their relationship.” The ACNM states that the couple must sign the agreement before a notary and that the contract must be validated within 15 days before the Civil Registry. One of the main prerequisites is that the couple must have lived together for at least a year.

Members of the UDI have already responded to the president’s proposal, saying that the gay community doesn’t need as much special recognition as one thinks.

“Today, the society is not prepared for this kind of thing,” UDI deputy Cristián Letelier told Radio Bío Bío. “It’s a reality; the sexual minority is largely in the more affluent sectors of society.” In that sense, Letelier said he was open to some benefits such as inheritance rights. “But to sign a document and have some sort of ceremony at the registry office, I think that does not conform to the reality of the facts,” Letelier said.

A couple of weeks ago, the UDI decided to develop its own proposal called the “Pacto de Acuerdo Recíproco” (PAR), which seeks to protect the identity of marriage. However, the president made it clear that the recognition of civil unions pledged during the campaign requires a regulation as defined in the ACNM. As a gesture, he allowed the UDI time to review his proposal before finalizing the initiative.

The proposal also stipulates that the couple won’t be approved if one of the contracting parties is already married or has already signed a pact with another person but has not legally dissolved it. The agreement can be terminated through death, marriage or a mutual agreement signed by both partners.

for more from Nan visit Hunter for Justice.

Hate crimes against gay, transgender people rise, report says

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs report says violent crimes against people in the LGBT community rose 13% in 2010, and that minorities and transgender women were more likely to be targeted.

Gay shooting
Brandon McInerney, left, was 14 when he shot gay classmate Larry King. Now 17, he's standing trial on first-degree murder and hate-crime charges.
An 18-year-old gay man from Texas allegedly slain by a classmate who feared a sexual advance. A 31-year-old transgender woman from Pennsylvania found dead with a pillowcase around her head. A 24-year-old lesbian from Florida purportedly killed by her girlfriend's father, who disapproved of the relationship.

The homicides are a sampling of 2010 crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people compiled by a national coalition of anti-hate organizations.

The report, released Tuesday, showed a 13% increase over 2009 in violent crimes committed against people because of their perceived or actual sexual orientation, gender identity or status as HIV positive, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.

Last year's homicide count reached 27, up from 22 in 2009, and was the second-highest total since the coalition began tracking such crimes in 1996. Of those killed, 70% were minorities and 44% were transgender women.

The data are compiled by the coalition's 43 participating organizations and are not comprehensive. They include crimes reported to the groups by victims who did not seek help from law enforcement. In fact, 50% of the 2010 assault survivors did not make police reports, with minorities and transgender people the least likely to come forward, the report said.

Among the cases was an April 2010 attack on Cal State Long Beach transgender student Colle Carpenter, who was cornered in a campus restroom by an assailant who carved "It" on his chest. Jake Finney, project manager with the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, said campus police initially "were not clear that the word 'It' was a slur and indicated anti-transgender bias." The center contacted the FBI, which assisted in the investigation, and the crime was ultimately classified as hate-motivated, Finney said.

The 2010 murder count is second to the 29 logged in 1999 and 2008. Among the 2008 fatalities was gay Oxnard junior high school student Larry King. The classmate charged in that killing, Brandon McInerney, is on trial.

Coalition members said hate crimes tended to increase after other high-profile attacks and when civil rights advances for the LGBT community were publicly debated.

"As we move forward toward full equality, we also have to be responsive and concerned with violence that may run alongside of it," spokeswoman Roberta Sklar said. "We don't want to go back into the closet to avoid it."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lawrence O'Donnell: Hasn't Every Hardcore Anti-Gay Republican Guy Been Revealed To Be Gay?

Lawrence talks about the reparative therapy at Bachmann & Associates with Wayne Besen (Truth Wins Out).

Homophobia On The Short Line Bus (in NY)

Singer Ari Gold says he was on a Short Line bus this weekend that was less than civil, especially when it comes to civil rights.

Gold was holding hands with a man in the front seat.
Says he:
"The driver told us if we wanted to continue sitting together, we had to sit in the back."
Frustrated, the driver called for a New York state trooper!
"Then he pulled over," says Gold. "The state trooper came and asked what the problem is, and he said that the way were were sitting was making him uncomfortable and he wanted us off the bus.
"The trooper said nothing was illegal and he needs to continue to drive."

Gold made an announcement to the other passengers, explaining that they had been pulled over to wait for the state trooper because he was holding hands with a man.
They all seemed deeply pissed at the blatant homophobia.

Gold -- the gay Rosa Parks -- will be filing charges.

We called ShortLine to find out if anything had been done about the situation and we were emailed this statement from George Grieve, President of Hudson Transit Lines:
I am the president of Hudson Transit Lines, Inc. which is the company known as Shortline. I wanted to assure you and your readers that we do not condone or endorse the actions taken by this one driver. His actions are not representative of the management of our Company. We will continue to investigate this incident until we are sure we have all the facts at which time we will take the appropriate disciplinary and remedial action. We apologize for the insensitive action of our driver and can assure you we will take the necessary steps to make sure this does not happen again.

Michele Bachmann's Family Business Exposed!

According to former patients, Bachmann & Associates has tried to convert gay men into heterosexuals through christian prayer. An investigation by "Truth Wins Out" proved with hidden cameras that their practice performs so-called "reparative therapy".

Monday, July 11, 2011

Lambda Legal files with U.S. Supreme Court

Lambda Legal: making the case for equality
Today Lambda Legal asked the United States Supreme Court to hear our case on behalf of Oren Adar and Mickey Smith, two dads who have been denied an accurate birth certificate for their son by the state of Louisiana. Louisiana insists they do not have to respect a court-ordered adoption from another state and they won't do so for the son of Oren and Mickey because they are an unmarried couple.
We think the state of Louisiana is wrong, and their actions are discriminatory and unconstitutional.
Asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a case is a big step and we do not take it lightly. In our petition, Lambda Legal argues that the State of Louisiana is violating both the equal protection and full faith and credit provisions of the Constitution, and they are punishing a child because they disapprove of his parents. We have to do everything we can to fight back.
The absence of an accurate birth certificate has been a hardship for the family as they struggled to enroll their child in their health insurance and in pre-school. While boarding a flight, the couple was asked to provide the child's birth certificate to prove he was their child.
Lambda Legal first filed suit on behalf of Oren and Mickey in October 2007, when the Louisiana attorney general advised the registrar that she did not have to honor an adoption from another state that would not have been granted under Louisiana law. We won at the federal trial court in 2009, but the Louisiana attorney general appealed the decision. In 2010, we won again: A three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the judgment. The attorney general requested a rehearing by the full Court of Appeals and we suffered a disappointing setback this spring when a sharply divided court overturned the prior decisions.
Today's petition to the U.S Supreme court argues that the Fifth Circuit's ruling ignores nearly one hundred years of well-established Supreme Court law and conflicts with other federal circuits across the country. Left untouched, it carves out an exception to the uniformly recognized respect for judgments that states have come to rely upon and leaves adopted children and their parents vulnerable in their interactions with officials from other states.
We've won this fight before. Lambda Legal represented a same-sex couple who adopted a child in California and later moved to Oklahoma. The Oklahoma legislature actually passed a law refusing to recognize any out-of-state adoption by a same-sex couple. Because of our legal challenge, that law was found unconstitutional by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and struck down.
This is a fight for the protection and well-being of children. It is also a fight to uphold core constitutional principles that hold this nation together. We've been fighting for Oren and Mickey and their son for four years—they won't give up, and neither will we. Please make a gift in support of this case and our fight for full equality.
Kevin Cathcart.
Kevin Cathcart
Executive Director
Lambda Legal


A glimmer of a path to an AIDS vaccine

By  -

In the 3-D model on the computer screen, the AIDS virus resembles a deformed head of broccoli, its clustered surface constantly shifting. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health’s Vaccine Research Center attribute moral characteristics to their enemy; it is “deceptive” and “diabolical.” The virus is covered in a cloak of sugars that mimic natural proteins, making it invisible to the immune system. Its true nature is only revealed to the body when the virus needs to get into a cell — latching onto a protrusion and injecting its genetic poison with a spring-loaded harpoon. It protects itself by constantly changing its genetic sequence. A person infected by one version of the virus, in a matter of weeks, can carry a million small mutations.

During its 30-year march, the virus has infected 65 million human bodies. Thirty million men, women and children have died. There is not a single example of an infected person whose immune system cleared the virus from his or her body.

This is the largest challenge for the vaccine researcher. The immune system has effective responses to diseases such as polio, measles or smallpox. Many people recover and gain immunity. The body itself proves that a vaccine is possible. But there is no naturally protective response to the AIDS virus. Medical researchers have to do better than nature.
During the decade following the creation of the Vaccine Research Center by President Bill Clinton, scientists gained a better understanding of the virus. But their main discovery was how difficult it would be to defeat. There was not even a scientific route to a solution. “It was like the ancient Greeks looking for a path to the moon,” recalls structural biologist Peter Kwong.
An audit of the center in 2008 would have found billions of dollars spent on few answers. But scientific progress often comes fitfully. “You do the groundwork,” says Gary Nabel, director of the center, “and then it pops.” In 2009, there were two unrelated breakthroughs. A Thai vaccine trialmanaged to produce a small protective effect, though researchers did not know why. At about the same time, improved diagnostics found that 10 to 25 percent of people with HIV produce antibodies that neutralize the virus — though the response is too weak and too late to make a difference.
The virus, it turns out, is vulnerable in one place. There is a portion of its cloak that can’t shift and camouflage itself — the small area where the virus latches on to the target cell. An antibody with the same footprint as the cell can block the attachment.
Scientists at NIH have now cloned that antibody. Produced in large enough quantities, it can be injected. Testing is scheduled to start next year. But even if this approach works, injecting manufactured antibodies won’t be an immediately practical solution. A gram of the antibody, Nabel estimates, might cost $100 to produce. Perhaps 100 million people would need to be injected once a month. This approach would be prohibitively expensive until costs are dramatically reduced.
The greater hope is a vaccine that could be injected once or a few times, producing an immune response that gives sustained protection. “We want the body to be the manufacturing plant for the antibodies,” explains Nabel. Unlike the precedent of other vaccines, it isn’t possible to use a dead version of the virus to produce immunity. It may be necessary to break off just the vulnerable bit of the virus, then introduce it into the body to provoke the production of antibodies. “It is not a fictional idea,” Nabel assures me. But it hasn’t been done before.
In the short and medium terms, neither injected antibodies nor a vaccine will be a substitute for other forms of AIDS prevention. Large reductions in infection rates can be achieved through consistent condom use, behavior change and circumcision. The treatment of HIV-infected pregnant women with AIDS drugs can prevent transmission to their children.Microbicide gels are promising.
But researchers at NIH know that an effective vaccine would be a decisive defeat for their wily enemy. “Every day there are 7,000 new infections,” reflects Nabel. “If we do our work a day sooner, it would make a difference.”
The day that work is finished remains distant. But now, at least, there is a path to the moon.

Gays, lesbians draw comfort, support from Catholic Mass

Catholics at St. Cecilia’s Church gathered yesterday before a Mass welcoming the LGBT community. An earlier service was canceled by the Boston Archdiocese over concerns that it would appear to condone homosexuality.
Catholics at St. Cecilia’s Church gathered yesterday before a Mass welcoming the LGBT community. An earlier service was canceled by the Boston Archdiocese over concerns that it would appear to condone homosexuality.
By Laura J. Nelson -

The Rainbow Ministry of St. Cecilia’s Church opened its doors to nearly 700 people yesterday for a long-awaited Mass in support of gay and lesbian Catholics, capping a month of controversy over the Boston Archdiocese’s postponement of the service.
A standing-room-only crowd, larger than Easter Sunday’s, packed the pews to hear the Rev. John J. Unni’s characteristically fiery message of love, acceptance, and the forgiveness of sins.
Unni’s message, which encouraged the congregation to welcome outcasts as Jesus did 2,000 years ago, was similar to that of weeks past. The difference yesterday, parishioners said, was Unni’s courage to say those words during a Mass that has drawn so much vitriol as well as passionate support.
“This is not about taking a stand; it’s about standing in the right place,’’ Unni said as members of the congregation, packed shoulder-to-shoulder in the non-air conditioned sanctuary, fanned themselves with programs. “Be with the outcasts. Be with those relegated to the margins.’’
His words marked the fifth week of back and forth between the church and the archdiocese, which began when St. Cecilia’s announced in its bulletin an “All Are Welcome’’ Mass, scheduled during Gay Pride Month in support of a sizable gay and lesbian portion of the congregation. Many of those members came from the South End’s predominantly gay Jesuit Urban Center, which closed in 2007.
The announcement brought a storm of criticism from conservative Catholics and bloggers. The archdiocese canceled the service days later, saying the church could not appear to endorse homosexuality.
The day of the canceled Mass, parishioners from St. Cecilia’s Rainbow Ministry, which serves the church’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, held a sidewalk prayer service instead. But Rainbow Ministry members said that was no substitute for a clergy-led Mass inside the church. About three weeks ago, the archdiocese approved the Mass, which Unni said yesterday at 11 a.m.
Leading the processional, Rainbow Ministry president John Kelly walked into the nave in front of Unni, carrying a gold cross.
“I can’t believe this is happening,’’ Kelly later recalled thinking as he approached the altar. “I never thought I’d see this day.’’
After growing up gay in South Boston, Kelly, 69, left Catholicism for more than 20 years before finding compassion and a diverse congregation at the Jesuit Urban Center.
“I went through hell,’’ Kelly said. “But today, I’ve never felt so blessed.’’
Many in the congregation wore “All Are Welcome’’ buttons showing a cross and a rainbow, the symbol of the gay rights movement.
“Thank you for saying, ‘This is who we are,’ ’’ Unni said to gay and lesbian parishioners at the end of Mass. “You are a beautiful and integral part of this parish.’’
Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who attended the service, said he follows the teachings of the Catholic Church for most issues, but on social issues he goes with his heart. The Catholic Church accepts gay and lesbians as humans and Catholics, but considers homosexuality a sin, as it does with extramarital sex between a man and a woman, according to a 2005 letter written by Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley.
“Our church talks about coming home,’’ Menino said after the service. “I want to make sure that we welcome everyone.’’
In the hot afternoon sun outside the church, parishioners and visitors attended an alfresco reception and ate ribs, coleslaw, and cupcakes at round tables that dotted Belvidere Street.
“It didn’t make a difference that the Mass was on a different day,’’ said Joseph Sansivero, 67, of Andover, who wore a rainbow-pinstriped shirt. “The message is appreciated.’’
Richard Iandoli, vice chairman of the parish council, said Unni’s message bore special importance because his fearlessness in supporting gay parishioners, who sometimes feel shunned by other Catholics, may encourage other gay and lesbian Catholics to come back to the church.
“The message was the same, but the feel was different than it was in June,’’ said Iandoli, who was a driving force behind the service. “We know all are welcome here, but public affirmation goes a long way.’’

Cambridge, MA to pay wedded gay workers to offset tax

By Johanna Kaiser -

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—When the city of Cambridge issues paychecks to its public employees, nearly two dozen workers find a federal tax on their income that their colleagues don't have to pay.
Like many people, these 22 school and city workers chose to put their spouses on their employer-provided health insurance. Because they're in a homosexual relationship, the value of that health coverage is considered taxable income by the federal government.
But starting this month, Cambridge will become what is believed to be the first municipality in the country to pay its public employees a stipend in an attempt to defray the cost of the federal tax on health benefits for their same-sex spouses.
The city employees hit by the extra tax pay an additional $1,500 to $3,000 in taxes a year and officials estimate the stipends would cost the city an additional $33,000.
"This is about equality," said Marjorie Decker, a Cambridge city councilor. "This is a city that models what equality really means."
Of the thousands of legally married gay and lesbian couples in Massachusetts, none can receive the federal benefits offered to heterosexual married couples because the federal government doesn't recognize same-sex marriages.
Those benefits include Social Security survivors' benefits, immigration rights, family leave and the ability to file joint tax returns.
The council last month approved the measure that would provide quarterly stipends to any city or school employee who puts a same-sex spouse on their health insurance. The vote came after council members began looking in January for a way to offset what they called an unfair and discriminatory tax.
"This is ultimately a fairness issue. Two people who do the exact same job should be paid exactly the same for what they are doing at work," said Leland Cheung, a Cambridge City Councilor who pushed for a proposal with fellow councilor E. Denise Simmons, who is openly gay.
Decker and Cheung said the additional funds needed from the city's personnel budget is a minor cost in the city's more than $500 million budget, but some say the public's money should not be used to go against established law.
"It's a travesty of using taxpayer monies to circumvent a national policy," said Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, an advocacy group opposed to same-sex marriage.
The 15-year-old federal Defense of Marriage Act defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, allows states to deny recognition of same-sex unions performed elsewhere and prevents the federal government from recognizing gay marriages. This provision federal prevents even gay and lesbian couples married legally by a state 7/8-- as in Massachusetts -- from receiving any federal benefits.
The act has faced setbacks lately, including President Obama's order in February for the Justice Department to stop defending the constitutionality of the federal law.
The key part of the law denying federal benefits for married gay couples was also ruled unconstitutional in the state by a U.S. District judge in Boston last year. That decision is being appealed.
Mary Bowe-Shulman of Acton, Mass., who was one of the plaintiffs in the case against DOMA, said she was happy that Cambridge employees would see financial relief and that the city was taking action on what she saw as a civil rights issue.
"I think that's a wonderful thing for them to make up for that," she said.
Bowe-Shulman, a staff attorney at the Massachusetts Court of Appeals, said she loses $7,800 a year to federal taxes on health insurance for her wife of 6 years, money she would rather be putting in a college fund for the couple's two children.
"It just makes me feel like my family is being treated differently than everyone else's," she said.
Although Bowe-Shulman applauded the Cambridge policy, she said hopes the court ruling stands so that such policies are unnecessary.
"I think it's just ridiculous that the state would have to expend some of its limited dollars to make up for this discriminatory policy," she said.
While Cambridge is known for its liberal policies and has had three consecutive openly gay mayors, the city is not the only employer offering additional pay.
Since 2009, at least 17 companies that offer benefits to same-sex spouses or domestic partners have supplemented employees' income to cover the tax, according to Sarah Warbelow, a legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign. Some of those companies include Mountain View, Calif.-based Google Inc., Palo Alto, Calif.-based Facebook and the Boston Consulting Group.
The number of same-sex spouses and partners receiving health benefits will soon increase as New York became the sixth and largest state to legalize gay marriage, joining Iowa, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts. The District of Columbia also recognizes gay marriage.
Thirty states have constitutional amendments banning gay marriage.
New legislation is being proposed nationally by Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, to eliminate the tax on health insurance for same-sex partners and spouses.
The lawmakers say this change will help individuals and reduce payroll taxes of the employers that offer benefits to same-sex partners and spouses without forcing employers to recognize domestic partners. Opponents say the proposal conflicts with current law.
"This appears to be another tactic to circumvent the intent of the DOMA, which is that federal tax dollars will not be used to benefit any kind of relationship outside a marriage between a man and a woman," said Mineau, who also criticized Obama's refusal to defend DOMA.
Still, Cambridge lawmakers are optimistic the policy will spread to other municipalities and states.
"Cambridge is a city on the cutting edge, and I think this is another example of that," Cheung said.

Accusations of Abuse by Priest Dating to Early 1940s


WINSLOW, Ariz. — Alfred Moya was stopping at a restaurant in rural Gallup, N.M., on his way home to Phoenix in the summer of 2007 when he happened to glance at a newspaper article about children who had been sexually abused by a priest.
Suddenly, his thoughts flashed to his own days as an altar boy in nearby Holbrook, Ariz., and the town’s charismatic priest, the Rev. Clement A. Hageman. “And then I started remembering,” he would later recount, according to court documents.
Over the past few years, a growing number of predominantly Hispanic men from the string of dusty towns along Route 66 in Arizona have stepped forward, alleging that Father Hageman sexually abused them as boys when he worked in local parishes from the early 1940s until his death in 1975.
A recent study commissioned by the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops found the rise of sexual abuse in the church coincided with the social and sexual tumult of the 1960s and ’70s. But the story of Father Hageman, as told through recently released church documents chronicling his troubles, begins much earlier.
Indeed, the priest has long haunted the deeply Catholic Hispanic communities around Holbrook, Winslow and Kingman, Ariz. His accusers said that he was “dumped” in impoverished, nonwhite communities by church officials to avoid scandal, an assertion that has emerged in other recent abuse cases.
“The premise we’ve been hearing is that the evidence is dead, the people are dead and that this was a problem of the ’60s and ’70s,” said Patrick Wall, a former priest and canon lawyer who investigated abuse cases for the church and now helps victims. “This case cracks open a door that has been closed for 60 years.”
Mr. Moya, 70, is believed to be the first to file a lawsuit against the Catholic Church over the priest’s alleged abuse, which dates to a time when the poor pockets of Mexican-Americans who lived here dared not question the local priest. His lawyer, Robert E. Pastor, said he expected to file a second suit next month on behalf of at least two more local men who say they, too, were abused by the priest. And Mr. Pastor said nine others settled with the Diocese of Gallup, N.M., over claims involving Father Hageman.
“This priest was so proficient, he abused everywhere he went,” Mr. Pastor said.
Filed in Coconino County Superior Court last August, Mr. Moya’s lawsuit names the Diocese of Gallup, which oversaw the churches where Father Hageman spent much of his career, as a defendant. It also names the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Tex., and the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, N.M., which the lawsuit contends were involved in the priest’s placements.
The suit alleges that Father Hageman started sexually abusing Mr. Moya when he was 12 and that church officials in all three dioceses covered up the priest’s behavior.
The Corpus Christi and Santa Fe dioceses have sought to have the lawsuit dismissed, arguing they were not responsible for supervising Father Hageman after he was transferred to Arizona. In a statement, the Corpus Christi Diocese said that the accusations did not involve any current member of the clergy or church worker associated with them.
The Gallup Diocese, meanwhile, responded in court filings that it lacked “sufficient knowledge or information” to know if Mr. Moya’s accusations were true. Moreover, the diocese argued that Mr. Moya’s claims against it should be barred because Father Hageman’s alleged abuse was “completely outside the scope of his employment as a Roman Catholic priest.”
Robert P. Warburton, a lawyer for both the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and the Gallup Diocese, declined to discuss the case, stating in a letter last week that further files on the priest, requested by Mr. Pastor, do not exist.
Father Clem, as parishioners called him, was born in Glandorf, Ohio, and ordained at age 25. He spent much of his life working at six rural parishes in New Mexico and Arizona, and church records recall him as popular.
But there are other memories.
“We’d all be playing on the playground, and he’d come walking, point at one of us, and move his finger to come with him inside the rectory,” recalled Joseph Baca, a Winslow man who says he was raped and molested repeatedly by Father Hageman and whose claims were detailed in an affidavit taken during settlement negotiations with the Gallup Diocese. “At first, I thought I was the only one.”
After Mr. Baca came forward, Bishop Donald E. Pelotte of Gallup apologized in 2005 for crimes committed by clergy members, calling Father Hageman and another clergyman two of the “most abusive priests of the diocese,” according to news reports at the time.
Mr. Pastor pointed to the recently released documents on Father Hageman as evidence that diocesan officials knew the priest was troubled.
In one letter from December 1940, the bishop of Gallup asked a colleague his opinion of the priest and relayed the archbishop of Santa Fe’s concern that Father Hageman “was guilty of playing with boys.”
In another, to the bishop of Gallup in 1952, Father Hageman describes being confronted by two men over his actions: “I had been drinking and perhaps while under the influence of liquor, I might have been imprudent in my dealings with boys.”
The release of such extensive documents, which came during the lawsuit, is unusual, according to experts on abuse in the church. “I believe this is the most extensive and longest sex abuse file that has ever been made public by the Catholic Church,” said Joelle Casteix, Western regional director for the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.
Recently in Winslow, Mr. Baca was joined by three middle-age Hispanic men who spoke of being abused by the priest. The men once attended Madre de Dios, a tiny church on the edge of town where Father Hageman worked that is ringed by ramshackle homes and a vacant field.
All but one said they had reached settlements with the Gallup Diocese. None would disclose the amount. The men also told of living broken lives in the shadow of what they said happened to them.
That afternoon, Mr. Baca and some of the men walked the grounds of their old church. One, who gave only his first name, Paul, because he had not spoken publicly about his case, motioned toward a door to the church’s sacristy. After Mass, Father Hageman locked it so the altar boys could not leave, Paul recalled.
“I don’t come here anymore,” he said.

Anti-Gay Industry Protests at Weddings

It's been a relatively quiet week: the anti-gay industry is planning to protest gay couples' weddings, Senator Leahy will hold hearings on DOMA repeal, and Equal Rights Washington is gearing up to fight for marriage at the ballot box.

6 Atlanta officers fired over Atlanta Eagle raid

Six Atlanta police officers were fired Friday for lying about what happened on the night of the 2009 raid on a Midtown gay bar, APD spokesman Carlos Campos said.
Nine other officers were also disciplined and three have hearings next week.
The actions come almost 10 days after the release of 343-page report detailing how 16 officers lied or destroyed evidence when asked about the raid at the Atlanta Eagle bar. The report said 10 of them lied, which usually leads to a termination because those officers can not longer testify.
“Honesty goes to the very heart of a police officer’s credibility,” Chief George Turner said. “The public must be able to trust its police officers and expects them to tell the truth at all times. Failure to be truthful has serious consequences at the Atlanta Police Department. I hope my actions today serve as a reminder to those men and women on the force that dishonesty simply will not be tolerated.”
On Sept. 10, 2009, 24 Atlanta police officers from the vice unit and the now-disbanded Red Dog team stormed into the bar, ordering everyone to the floor and using anti-gay slurs.
The fallout from the raid has dogged the department since, but APD took no action until the report was released last week, a day after the deadline set by a federal judge.
Police said they went to the bar because of reports of men engaging in sex while others watched. The charges against the eight people arrested that night were soon dropped or dismissed.
A federal lawsuit was filed and taxpayers had to pay the men more than $1 million to settle it.
The city released a report last week that was based on a three-month investigation that found many officers lied, knowingly violated the constitutional rights of those at the bar, destroyed evidence, and tried to cover up what they had done.
“Any time an officer’s credibility is at issue ... that can be raised in court,” said Christine Koehler, a past president of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
Now cases based on the officers' testimony may have to be revisited.
At least two of the officers cited for lying -- James Menzoian and Brandon Jackson -- had been accused of lying another time. A federal judge said the two were "less than candid" in an October 2009  drug case. Federal prosecutors told APD they would never use them again in a federal prosecution. They previously had been fired.
A third officer also accused of lying was already on administrative leave when the report was issued on June 28; Bennie Bridges was charged in Cobb County in February with driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana.
The officers who were dismissed are: Bridges, Lt. Tony Crawford, Sgt. Willie Adams, Sgt. John Brock, Officer Jeremy Edwards and Officer Cayenne Mayes.
The following officers were suspended for various lengths of time: Sgt. Kelley Collier (20 days), Inv. Timothy McClain (four days), Officer Robert C. Godwin (two days), Officer Vincent Marcano (two days), and Officer Marlon Noble (two days).
Four officers received written reprimands, and three have disciplinary hearings next week.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

"35 years of prayer couldn't get rid of my homosexuality. My name is Steve and I am an Ex Mormon."

As I watched two buildings explode and crush into pieces on September 11th, 2001, my life began to fall apart. It was the event that shook my soul and began my exit from the Mormon Church. As I sat speechless and terrified watching thousands of innocent people die, I wondered if they had lived genuinely. They were in a situation they couldn't control, meeting the ends of their lives with no choice. Up until that very moment, I also felt that I had no choice. This event shook my brain into a thinking mode as no other event had done. They were in a situation they couldn't control, meeting the ends of their lives with no choice. But I DID have a choice in the direction I would go.

A sixth generation Mormon, named after Jacob Hamblin and John Doyle Lee, I was a select member with a shining lineage. I was destined to received all the temple blessings bestowed upon me throughout my life! But I was just fooling myself. I was a gay Mormon, hiding my true desires in an "eternal marriage" that was soon to come to an end. The thought of it all was overwhelming me. Leaving the Church was certainly the end of my being, my soul. My family would abandon me without question. What would I become? I would surely lose everything. Satan already had a death grip on my ankles pulling me to his side. Leaving the Church meant death of my body and my soul.

But the day arrived when I was so terribly unhappy I actually said it aloud. I would have rather died than live one more day feeling that disastrous inside. And many men in my situation simply end it, Blood Atonement to save themselves from the endless mental prison. But somewhere inside me I knew I could make it through even this trial. Could THIS be my real test from Heavenly Father? Escaping with my life, hoping to create a better life for my wife, my kids and myself? None of it made sense any more. I woke up on my last Sunday as a believing Mormon, my wife took my kids to Church with her, and over the next three hours as they were bored out of their minds, I began researching the Church online.

Without moving from that chair, every single question I had was answered, all my doubts about the strangeness of the Mormon Church became clear, a switch literally flipped in my head so loudly that I almost heard the click. From OFF to ON.

To read the rest of Steve's story, click on the following link: