December 10, 2013
December 03, 2013
" Sport Does Not Discriminate On Grounds Of Race, Religion, Politics, Gender Or Otherwise"
-Principle Six of the International Olympic Charter
AllOut.org and Athlete Ally has created a brilliant campaign to take to Sochi in February. The genius of it all is that the LGBT community is not putting any Athletes at risk while slowly and steadily feeding the International Olympic Committee their own words.
There is no question that by the time of the Olympics the Principle Six Campaign will stand not only for human rights but clearly for the freedom from the tyranny directed against the Russian LGBT community. The more athletes, media personalities, entertainers and others who wear Principle Six somewhere on their person the more powerful the message.
The two organizations announced this week that some Olympians have endorsed this effort. However it should not be limited to just Olympians but all athletes and supporters of human rights. American athletes should put a brilliant red '6' on their uniforms to show solidarity. That includes high school and college athletes.
Now is the time in your communities, school, universities and institutions to ask people to wear the bright red six to show resistance to the Putin's Punks.
American Apparel has partnered with the groups and will help finance the bold statement to take to Sochi. You will be able to get your "6" merchandise after January 1. Hope they have a small classy pin to put on your suit or formal wear.
This should be a campaign that everyone should be able to rally behind including NBC Sports, sponsors, athletes and activists
Posted at 06:00 AM in Civil Rights, Human Rights, International LGBT Rights, LGBT, LGBT Athletes, LGBT Discrimination, LGBT Organizatons, LGBT Russians, LGBT Sports, Olympics, President Putin, Principles and Values, Russia, Russian Gays, Russian Olympics, Sochi Olympic Games, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
December 02, 2013
An Atlanta Pastor gives an amazing sermon concerning the Broadway show Kinky Boots! Given the silly backlash of the Thanksgiving Parade to the Kinky Boots appearance, this sermon has even more power. This sermon was given by the Senior Pastor Michael Piazza at the Virginia-Highland Church. This is a fun and wonderful view.
By the way, if you haven't seen this show, this is a 'must' on your next visit to Broadway! Get your tickets here.
"We've had quite a run as of late, but we're going to be out of this mode of needing to win every few weeks,"
-Marc Solomon (Freedom to Marry)
In an article by Nico Lang in Rolling Stone, the journalist gives the odds for the next states that are likely to pass marriage equality. LGBT Americans can now legally get married in sixteen states encompassing over 33% of the population.
Here are Lang's picks and his odds for each of the likely candidates for next in line:
1. New Mexico
Odds: 3 to 2
Same-sex marriage is already legal in New Mexico, depending on where you live – it's the only state in the country that doesn't mention gender in its definition of marriage, meaning that same-sex unions are neither explicitly banned nor allowed. Because of this, county clerks have taken up the issue to decide for themselves, and eight counties currently allow same-sex couples to apply for marriage licenses.
According to Anthony Martinez, Executive Director of the Civil Rights Agenda, this has long been an act of "civil disobedience." Now the issue is going to New Mexico's Supreme court: Last month, the court heard arguments for and against legalizing same-sex marriage, and is expected to rule by the new year. Martinez is hopeful that the court will rule in favor of equality, crediting Albuquerque's gay and lesbian population as changing hearts and minds. "As [LGBT] families become more visible across the state," says Martinez, "people realize the inequities of families raised without protections."
Should the court uphold same-sex unions, the fight will likely continue. The state's Republican opposition has vowed to take the battle to the ballots, hoping to repeal the court's ruling through popular referendum. Says Republican State Senator Bill Sharer, "I think the most important thing here is no matter what [the court's] decision is, the issue will not be settled until the people speak."
Odds: 4 to 1
Oregon was one of 11 states that constitutionally banned same-sex unions in 2004, after Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to legalize marriage equality. But just 10 years later, Selene Kaye, the National Marriage Campaign Manager of ACLU, thinks the tide is changing. "In Oregon, there's a coalition moving toward a ballot initiative in 2014," says Kaye. This would give voters the chance to undo the 2004 marriage ban through public referendum, similar to Minnesota last year.
For Kaye, preparing for the 2014 ballot measure will require public education – or what Ms. Kaye calls "persuasion campaigns." "The idea is to engage people who are supportive in efforts to talk to additional people," explains Kaye. "When we get stories out there and make people start to understand us, we create an infrastructure to make a difference."
Should Oregon United for Marriage collect enough signatures to get the initiative on the ballot in 2014, statewide polling suggests voters will back the measure. According to research from the Public Policy Poll, a strong majority of Oregon residents support same-sex unions, and 54 percent claimed that they would vote to make equality state law.
Odds: 20 to 1
Michigan is one of a few states with pending legal battles over the definition of marriage. In October, the state's LGBT rights activists hoped that Judge Bernard Friedman would make an immediate decision the case of Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer, a Detroit couple who sued for marriage rights. The state was one of many to ban same-sex unions in 2004 – by a wide majority – and workers can still be legally fired in Michigan on grounds of sexual orientation.
Despite these challenges, advocates remain optimistic about the case's February 25th court date. Regardless, Michigan is likely to see the issue come up again in the 2016 election cycle in the form of ballot measures.
Marc Solomon, the Campaign Manager for Freedom to Marry, says that activists need to win a critical mass of public support in battleground states where same-sex marriage was once an impossibility. "The overall goal is to grow public support between now and 2016," says Solomon. "A lot of those amendments passed almost a decade ago, and since been there's been a historically significant growth in support nationwide." According to Gallup statistics, approximately 54 percent of Americans now support marriage for same-sex couples.
Solomon says that the real battles will be playing the long game, as we move past 2013's string of marriage equality victories. "We've had quite a run as of late, but we're going to be out of this mode of needing to win every few weeks," states Solomon. "We need to continue to build momentum."
Odds: 50 to 1
Proponents of equality in Virginia have a few aces up their sleeves: Ted Olson and David Boies – the lawyers who successfully argued against California's Prop. 8 before the Supreme Court – have vowed to make the state their next target.
Back in 2006, Virginia joined the club of states to ban marriage equality in a landslide 57 percent to 43 percent voter decision. Earlier this year, a Virginia couple, Tony London and Timothy Bostic, applied for a marriage license in the state and were rejected. Just over two weeks later, London and Bostic took it to the state courts – and with Olson and Boies behind them, many are optimistic that Virginia could make history as the first southern state to legalize same-sex unions.
According to Anthony Martinez, it'll all come down to the argument. "All they need is a well-structured case," says Martinez, "and Ted Olson and David Boies are in a good position to make that happen."
The good news for same-sex marriage advocates is that the state's newly elected Democrat governor, Terry McAuliffe, supports marriage equality, as do most Virginians. A poll from the Washington Post and the Human Rights Campaign indicated that 55 percent of state residents favored same-sex unions.
This consensus is a good indication of potential court support, according to Camilla Taylor, the National Marriage Project Director for Lambda Legal. "The court likes to see itself doing a clean-up job," says Taylor, and Marc Solomon agrees, "They don't like to be ahead of the public on this issue."
Odds: 100 to 1
On November 18th, the LGBT advocacy group Lambda Legal announced that it had filed an opening brief with Nevada's Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of eight couples to challenge the state's marriage amendment.
In a statement, Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Tara Borelli said, "After the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling striking down Section 3 of DOMA, Nevada's ban on marriage for same-sex couples has become exponentially more harmful to same-sex couples who are barred from a sweeping array of federal benefits as well."
Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, hopes that states like Nevada will provide a "tipping point" for marriage equality, especially leading into 2016. "Politicians may be slow to react," says Cherkasov, "but the thing we have on our side is our amazing polling numbers. No one wants to stand in the way of historic record support. No one wants to stand in the way of what's right. I think the wide majority support is going to shift the politicians' views as well."
October polls from the Retail Association of Nevada indicate that Nevadans support equality by a wide margin – with 57 percent in favor and just 36 percent opposing. Should the courts not overturn the state's ban on equality, the Nevada legislature recently introduced a measure to put it to a public vote. Says long-time LGBT activist Tom Bellino, "It's a three-year process to overturn the ban, and the process just started this year."
Look for marriage on the Nevada ballot in 2016, where it's likely to pass.
On the Bubble for 2016: Colorado, Ohio, Utah and Pennsylvania
In addition to potential ballot measures in Nevada and Virginia, advocates expect to see states like Ohio and Colorado take up the issue in 2016. Anthony Martinez argues that Colorado is on a similar path to Illinois and New Jersey – states that allowed civil unions before moving toward full marriage equality.
"We just saw civil unions pass in May [in Colorado]," says Martinez. "Civil unions have always been a stop-gap measure toward equality. Now we need to wait a while to let people see that the sky isn't falling before we move toward full marriage."
Camilla Taylor says Ohio, in particular, "has a lot of movement going on the ground." A Cincinnati gay couple, John Arthur and James Obergefell, fought to be buried together. As an unmarried couple, Arthur and Obergefell lack the legal right to such allowances, but Arthur is dying of Lou Gehrig's disease. After his passing, the two want to "officially remember and record their union as a married couple."
They won, in a ruling that suggested that the state may be moving toward same-sex marriage. Federal judge Timothy Black argued that the state has historically upheld out-of-state unions, even "marriages between cousins and involving minors." Wrote Black, "How then can Ohio, especially given the historical status of Ohio law, single out same-sex marriages as ones it will not recognize? The short answer is that Ohio cannot."
Marc Solomon says Republican support has been crucial in Ohio, especially from U.S. Senator Rob Portman, whose son is gay. However, he believes that advocates should stay focused on overall momentum rather than winning each state one by one. "People shouldn't feel discouraged that we're only at 16 states and we have 34 to go," says Solomon. "Ultimately, our national win is going to come from the United States Supreme Court. It's how other civil rights have succeeded. Our job right now is to show the court that the country is ready."
November 28, 2013
Young Duncan McAlpine Sennett uses his Bar Mitzvah to share passionately about his support for marriage equality. The thirteen year old stood before the Beth Israel Congregation in Portland, Oregon and gave his interpretation of marriage. A Bar Mitzvah is a rite of passage for all young Jewish men and their "D'var Morah' is an important part of that process.
Thank you Duncan!
November 27, 2013
Perhaps if you didn't believe using anti-Gay demagoguery as the ultimate insult to those you hate might have something to do with it. You said you are willing to take 'some responsibility' for your behavior but you blamed strident gays for being responsible for your plight.
Here is a unique concept Alec.
Maybe if you have never repeatedly over the years used anti-LGBT language, took anger management classes and stopped your public outbursts against people you might still be on the air. The fact of the matter is that calling a photographer a 'cocksucking faggot' might be a good reason for the loss of the job.
Maybe if this was just the first time you have blown up in public the world would be more forgiving but your anger is ugly, violent and derogatory to many Americans.
Here is some unsolicited advice.
Stop blaming others and find ways to get help to contain your anger and unbelievably ugly episodes of public behavior. LGBT Americans who were offended and insulted by your outbursts didn't cause you your job. Believe it or not, you did it all by yourself!
November 25, 2013
The entire international human rights community seems to be focused on the horrible epidemic of anti-LGBT actions happening in Russia. The horror of watching Putin's Punks launch a reign of terror against Russian LGBT citizens is disgusting to witness and must be stopped. Around the world we have seen concerts, demonstrations, official expressions of outrage by governments and people traveling to the nation to confront the horror.
However, let's remember Africa.
The continents LGBT citizens are literally being killed, beaten, set afire and placed in nightmare prisons where the odds of them emerging alive are slim. In numerous nations across Africa, there is a war of terror and attrition against its LGBT citizens. In many ways, the hate rising in Africa against their LGBT citizens is an American export. The organizations fighting us here in the United States are increasingly using their missions in Africa to push for the death penalty and other repressive laws.
Since Moscow is Eurocentric, we hear of the news because of better access to news organizations. Because Putin Punk's see the need to put their videos on the Internet we actually witness some of the horror. And let's be honest, because the Russian victims are white we hear more about their stories.
While fighting for our Russian brothers and sisters, we must not forget the same in Africa. They have even less resources to fight back, almost no one is hearing their pleas for help and even our governments don't seem to care as much as they do about Russia.
Where to put resources and energy is not an 'either or' situation.
Global citizens who love liberty, justice and human rights must fight for all LGBT citizens rather they are in the more accessible Russia, in Africa or in the Middle East. Our obligations to fight for full equality for LGBT citizens doesn't stop with a skin color, an economic status or boundaries.
Please don't forget LGBT Africans.
November 21, 2013
In New York, New York City received a perfect score, Albany had 99 and Rochester had a 98.
In New Jersey, the picture was not as good with Newark only at 76 and Asbury Park at a low 59. Jersey City did manage a score of 100.
California has a ton of cities at 100.
Florida did not have one city at 100.
The organization's report stated:
The 2013 MEI rates 291 municipalities drawn from every state in the nation on the basis of how inclusive their laws and policies are of LGBT people. These laws and policies include non-discrimination laws, equal employee benefits, relationship recognition, inclusive city services and leadership on matters of equality. Twenty-five cities earned a perfect 100-point score.
Cities across the country achieved excellent scores, demonstrating that cities have a commitment to LGBT equality that is unbridled by regionalism and not confined to parts of the country many people assume are most LGBT friendly;
-25 cities received perfect scores (100 points) in 2013; 11 did in 2012;
-Of cities that scored 100, 8 cities came from states without comprehensive relationship recognition and without statewide non-discrimination laws (compared to two such cities in 2012);
-31 million people live in cities where trans people are protected at the city level alone;
-In 2012 we rated 137 cities with a total population of 55,853,651; in 2013 we rated 291 cities with a population total of 77,851,822;
-10% of cities scored over 96 points, 25% scored over 78 points. The average score was 57 points, half of cities scored over 60 points. 25% of cities scored 35 points or fewer; and 3.5% of cities scored 10 points or fewer.
-Cities tended to have higher scores where the city was selected for having a high proportion of same-sex couples, and the presence of openly LGBT city officials and LGBT police liaisons also tended to be correlated with higher scores.
November 20, 2013
Oklahoma Drops All Benefits To All National Guard Members To Avoid Granting LGBT Americans Benefits!
In a move that is likely to replicated in other states, Oklahoma early this month abolished all benefits to their National Guard members in order to avoid granting them to LGBT service members!
Think Progress reports:
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) announced earlier this month that state-owned National Guard facilities will no longer allow any married couples to apply for spousal benefits, regardless of whether they are same-sex or opposite-sex. The Supreme Court’s decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act means that servicemembers with same-sex spouses are now eligible for federal benefits. Fallin’s unusual tactic is designed to avoid having to recognize those couples, which she asserts would violate Oklahoma’s constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman:
FALLIN: Oklahoma law is clear. The state of Oklahoma does not recognize same-sex marriages, nor does it confer marriage benefits to same-sex couples. The decision reached today allows the National Guard to obey Oklahoma law without violating federal rules or policies. It protects the integrity of our state constitution and sends a message to the federal government that they cannot simply ignore our laws or the will of the people.
This decision directly contradicts an order from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordering states to provide same-sex couples with the federal benefits they deserve under the law. All married couples will now have to travel to one of the five federal facilities in Oklahoma to apply for benefits. Incidentally, the state’s facilities were built almost entirely with federal funds and 90 percent of the Oklahoma Military Department — which includes the National Guard — is funded by the federal government.
Fallin’s tactic mirrors other attempts to punish an entire group to avoid serving the gay community. When marriage equality came to the District of Columbia, Catholic Charities decided to stop offering partner benefits to all employees to avoid having to provide them to any employee’s same-sex spouse. In various states, Catholic Charities has also abandoned all adoption services to avoid having to provide them to same-sex couples.
November 19, 2013
"Schaefer, who pleaded not guilty, could have avoided the trial had he agreed to never again perform a same-gender wedding, but he declined because three of his four children are gay."
Pennsylvania Methodist Minister Frank Schaefer simply wanted the honor of officiating at the wedding of his son Tim who was marrying another man. In a quiet ceremony that took place in 2007, he carried out that honor and was not only the minister at the wedding but a proud father.
Years later a thirteen member jury organized by the United Methodist Church 'convicted' Reverend Schaefer of breaking 'church law'. The ruling was handed down Monday in Pennsylvania. The minister can be 'defrocked' by the ruling and lose his congregation. Today the jury that convicted him could remove his ministerial credentials.
"Obviously, I'm very saddened. What we're hoping for tomorrow is a light sentence," said Schaefer's son, Tim Schaefer, 29, whose wedding led to the charges.
Testifying in his defense, the 51-year-old pastor said he decided to break church rules out of love for his son. He said that he might have lost what he called his "ritual purity" by disobeying the Methodist Book of Discipline but that he felt he was obeying God's command to minister to everyone.
"I love the United Methodist Church. I've been a minister for almost 20 years, and there are so many good things about the United Methodist Church except for that one rule," said Schaefer, of Lebanon.
Schaefer, who pleaded not guilty, could have avoided the trial had he agreed to never again perform a same-gender wedding, but he declined because three of his four children are gay.
The nation's largest mainline Protestant denomination accepts gay and lesbian members, but it rejects the practice of homosexuality as "incompatible with Christian teaching."
The church's lawyer, the Rev. Christopher Fisher, told the jury that Schaefer clearly violated the Book of Discipline. He said the complainant, Jon Boger — a member of Schaefer's congregation — was dismayed and shocked when he learned this year about the ceremony.
Fisher used his closing argument to condemn homosexuality as immoral and said Schaefer had no right to break a Methodist law that bans pastors from performing same-sex marriages just because he disagreed with church teaching. He told jurors they were duty-bound to convict.
"You'll give an account for that at the last day, as we all will," he told the jury, to audible gasps from spectators.
Dozens of Schaefer's supporters stood in silent protest as Fisher spoke, then linked hands and sang "We Shall Overcome" after the jury left to begin deliberating.
Boger, the church's sole witness, testified Monday that he felt betrayed when he found out that Schaefer, who had baptized his children and buried his grandparents, had presided over a same-sex wedding.
"When pastors take the law of the church in their own hand ... it undermines their own credibility as a leader and also undermines the integrity of the church as a whole," Boger said. "It's his son. He loves his son. In a way, I felt bad for him. But he's also shown no remorse or repentance, nor has he apologized to anyone."
When Schaefer chose to hide the marriage from the congregation, Boger said, "it was a lie and a broken covenant."
But Schaefer testified that he had informed his superiors of his part in the marriage. He said he kept it from his conservative church's congregation because it would be divisive.
"I did not want to make this a protest about the doctrine of the church. I wasn't trying to be an advocate," Schaefer said. "I just wanted this to be a beautiful family affair, and it was that."
Schaefer faced no discipline until April — less than a month before the church's six-year statute of limitations was set to expire — when Boger filed a complaint.
Schaefer's son came out to his parents at age 17, revealing he had contemplated suicide over his struggle with sexual identity and the church's stance on homosexuality.
"He had heard messages that were hateful from the church, from the culture around him, that told him you're not normal, you're not valid, you're a freak," Schaefer testified.
The pastor said he and his wife told their son he was a "beloved child of God."
Years later, Tim Schaefer asked his father to marry him.
"To say no to his request would have negated all the affirmations I gave him over the years," he said.