Monday, June 19, 2006

Pentagon Lists Homosexuality As Disorder

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (U.S.) -- A Pentagon document classifies homosexuality as a mental disorder, decades after mental health experts abandoned that position.

The document outlines retirement or other discharge policies for service members with physical disabilities, and in a section on defects lists homosexuality alongside mental retardation and personality disorders.

Critics said the reference underscores the Pentagon's failing policies on gays, and adds to a culture that has created uncertainty and insecurity around the treatment of homosexual service members, leading to anti-gay harassment.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jeremy M. Martin said the policy document is under review.

The Pentagon has a "don't ask, don't tell" policy that prohibits the military from inquiring about the sex lives of service members but requires discharges of those who openly acknowledge being gay.

The Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military, at the University of California at Santa Barbara, uncovered the document and pointed to it as further proof that the military deserves failing grades for its treatment of gays.

Nathaniel Frank, senior research fellow at the center, said, "The policy reflects the department's continued misunderstanding of homosexuality and makes it more difficult for gays and lesbians to access mental health services."

The document, called a Defense Department Instruction, was condemned by medical professionals, members of Congress and other experts, including the American Psychiatric Association.

"It is disappointing that certain Department of Defense instructions include homosexuality as a 'mental disorder' more than 30 years after the mental health community recognized that such a classification was a mistake," said Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass.

Congress members noted that other Pentagon regulations dealing with mental health do not include homosexuality on any lists of psychological disorders. And in a letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Monday, nine lawmakers asked for a full review of all documents and policies to ensure they reflect that same standard.

"Based on scientific and medical evidence the APA declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973 -- a position shared by all other major health and mental health organizations based on their own review of the science," James H. Scully Jr., head of the psychiatric association, said in a letter to the Defense Department's top doctor earlier this month.

There were 726 military members discharged under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy during the budget year that ended last Sept. 30. That marked the first year since 2001 that the total had increased. The number of discharges had declined each year since it peaked at 1,227 in 2001, and had fallen to 653 in 2004.

The Pentagon needs to look at its own administration of the federal state if it wants to see people with genuine mental disorders.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Federal Gay Marriage Amendment Goes Down in Flames in the U.S. Senate.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA - A constitutional ban on same-sex marriage failed to pass the U.S. Senate on Wednesday but Republican leaders planned to take it up in the House, keeping a national spotlight on the divisive issue.

U.S. Senators will have to answer for their positions, one sponsor of the amendment warned.

"People are going to be responsible for this vote," said Senator Sam Brownback, R-Kansas "We are making progress in America on defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman."

Indeed, the amendment was expected to gain as many as seven new votes from freshman supporters who were not members of the U.S. Senate when the amendment was last voted on in 2004.

"There's many of us who have not had an opportunity to debate and discuss this," said one of them, Senator Mel Martinez, R-Florida.

Their support is expected to produce a majority for the amendment in the 100-member chamber.

Two-thirds majority is required in both houses of Congress to send an amendment to the states. It then would have to be ratified by at least 38 states.

Still, supporters were pleased.

Forty-five of the 50 states have acted to define traditional marriage in ways that would ban same-sex marriage 19 with their own state constitutional amendments and 26 with statutes.

"Most Americans are not yet convinced that their elected representatives or the judiciary are likely to expand decisively the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples," said Senator John McCain, R-Arizona, a possible presidential candidate in 2008. He told the Senate on Tuesday he does not support the federal amendment.

The measure's defeat in the Senate is by no means its last stand, said its supporters. "Whether it passes or not this time, I do not believe the sponsors are going to fall back and cry about it," said Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. "I think they are going to keep bringing it up."

The House plans a vote on the amendment next month, said Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.
"This is an issue that is of significant importance to many Americans," Boehner told reporters. "We have significant numbers of our members who want a vote on this, so we are going to have a vote."
Like the Senate, the House in 2004 fell short of the two-thirds vote needed.

Bush, his popularity sagging and his conservative base dissatisfied with
Republicans' efforts on social issues, issued a fresh appeal for passage Tuesday, the third time in as many days.

"The administration believes that the future of marriage in America should be decided through the democratic constitutional amendment process, rather than by the court orders of a few," a
White House statement said.

Vatican also weighed in Tuesday, naming gay marriage as one of the factors threatening the traditional family as never before.

Democrats, all of whom except Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska oppose the amendment, say the debate is a divisive political ploy.

"The Republican leadership is asking us to spend time writing bigotry into the Constitution," said Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, whose commonwealth legalized gay marriage in 2003. "A vote for it is a vote against civil unions, against domestic partnership, against all other efforts for states to treat gays and lesbians fairly under the law."

Hatch responded: "Does he really want to suggest that over half of the United States Senate is a crew of bigots?"

Kentucky Equality Association chastised U.S. Representative Geoff Davis, R-Kentucky for supporting the amendment and the negative way he responded to opponents in his district.

The Kentucky Equality Association believes the anti-gay marriage movement comes from the religious belief that homosexuality is a sin, immoral, harms children, and spreads disease.

The Federal Marriage Amendment is an attack on the sovereignty of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which recognizes gay marriages, as well as the states of New Jersey, Vermont, California, and Connecticut, that have passed civil unions or similar partnerships.

The Kentucky Equality Association is committed to organizing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and fair-minded vote throughout the commonwealth. The Associations Board of Directors ratified a statement condemning the Republican attempt to appeal to right-wing voters ahead of November's congressional ballot, and for using the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community as a political punching bag.

Same-sex couples cannot participate fully in our society if they are denied the rights and responsibilities offered to heterosexual couples.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Kentucky Equality Assoc. supports GSA at Boone County High School

Covington, KY (PRWEB) June 01, 2006 -- After receiving reports that officials at Boone County High School could be delaying the formation of a Gay-Straight Alliance ("GSA"), the Kentucky Equality Association has sent a letter and information pamphlets to the school's principal. The information sent to the school is entitled "Just the Facts" and has been endorsed by the American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, American Psychological Association, American School Health Association, National Association of Social Workers, and the National Education Association, among others.

The federal Equal Access Act requires schools to treat GSA's as they would any other school group, according to the letter sent Tuesday to Ms. Peggy Brooks the principal of Boone County High School.

The Kentucky Equality Association believes delaying or denying the formation of a Gay-Straight Alliance would also violate the Kentucky Education Reform Act.

According to information obtained from the school's website, 16 clubs are currently active in the school including a club dedicated to the animated cartoon, Anime.

A GSA provides a place for students to meet, support each other, talk about issues related to sexual orientation, and work to end homophobia. Many GSA's function as a support group and provide safety and confidentiality to students who are struggling with their identity as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.

Federal courts have repeatedly ruled in favor of GSA's where schools tried to block their formation, upholding students' right to form the groups in Salt Lake City, Utah, Orange, California, Franklin Township, Indiana, and Boyd County, Kentucky.

The Kentucky Equality Association has offered to make additional information available to any official or student of Boone County High School. "The Kentucky Equality Association will be pleased to provide information and data sheets about GSA's to any other school official or student in the commonwealth," stated Jordan Palmer, association president.

The Advisory Council of the Kentucky Equality Association will continue to monitor the formation of the GSA club at Boone County High School through its members.