Sunday, December 28, 2008

Florida Supreme Court to rule on same-sex adoption ban

In 2008, two separate Florida Circuit Court Judge's ruled that Florida's 30-year-old gay adoption ban unconstitutional. In 2009, the Florida Supreme Court will have the final word.

According to a Fort Myers newspaper, thirty-seven foster children in Southwest Florida have no prospects for permanent, loving families.

Under current law, gay people are not allowed to adopt children, but a recent court ruling making its way to the state's Supreme Court may change that.

Click here to read the entire article.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Christian plea for gay rights

As we approach the new year, an opinion in the Arizona Republic rang true.....more so than anything after setbacks in Arizona, Arkansas, California, and Florida. Regardless of your religion, it all translates the same: "Love your neighbor and live peacefully."

It saddened me when Arizona and other states passed initiatives attacking the GLBT [and I, for intersex] community, an often demonized and misunderstood minority.

As an American, I saw equality for all fall. As a Christian, I saw love held less important than tradition.

Since the passage of these Jim Crow-style initiatives, there has been a backlash against the initiatives' supporters, specifically the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I understand the need to express anger. Surely I would lash out against a law declaring invalid the love between a Protestant and a Catholic.

But I suggest we move away from retribution and toward understanding. As Americans, we must fight for equality for all, and at the same time as Christians, we must help those mired in tradition to understand that Christ commands that love, not tradition, be our guide.

The latter can be achieved only through honest dialogue, not by punishing those who disagree.

Finally, it concerns me that of the triumvirate of intolerance - LDS, Catholic and Christian Fundamentalist churches - the LDS Church is bearing the brunt of the backlash. - James E. Barton II, Phoenix

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Pope angers campaigners with speech seen as attack on homosexuality

Although Catholic doctrine is that homosexuality is not a sin, the church does condemn homosexual acts and the former Joseph Ratzinger stated in 1986 before he became pope that homosexuality "is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder".

"What keeps the pope awake at night is the idea that human beings might be able to seek out their own sexual identity to have a happy life," said Franco Grillini, of the Italian association Gaynet. "The speech has no scientific basis," said Aurelio Mancuso, head of Arcigay. "A divine programme for men and women is out of line with nature, where the roles are not so clear."

Click here to read the entire article.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Caroline Kennedy comes out in full support of gay marriage

Caroline Kennedy, who is seeking to replace Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate, has revealed some of her positions on hot-button political issues. Answering questions from Politico through her spokesman, Kennedy said she supports gay marriage. Kennedy left no doubt, though, about her support for gay marriage. She "supports full equality and marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples," her spokesman wrote.

Prop. 8 Supporters try to VOID 18,000 LGBT Marriages

Proposition 8 proponents are trying to strip the 18,000 couples who married of their marriage licenses. They are like the Grinch attempting to pull every last shred of happiness and hope from same-sex couples. The Court cannot allow the bullies and bigotry to pollute our Constitution that has heretofore stood for equality and justice for all.

"We are incredibly encouraged by the Attorney General's thoughtful and courageous decision to urge the California Supreme Court to stand up for its historic role in protecting minorities against the tyranny of the majority," said Media Director Molly McKay. "The lives of thousands of couples and their children hang in the balance. We are hopeful that the outpouring of support from every major civil rights organization and dozens of cities and legislators will encourage the Justices that the right thing to do is to find that Proposition 8 is a revision to our Constitution and not allow it to stand. We have fundamentally altered the checks and balance of our democracy if a prejudiced minority is entitled to only the fundamental rights that they can persuade the majority to extend to them."

RELATED: California Attorney General Urges Court To Strike Down Proposition 8 Marriage Equality USA Advisory Board Member Robin Tyler Responds to Challenge to the 18K Married Couples. (more)

Best and Worst LGBT Charities?

LGBT blogs continue to chatter about Queerty publishing the best and worst of non-profits according to Charity Navigator.

Making the Top 5 of the worst LGBT charities include:

  1. Gay Men's Heath Crisis
  2. National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
  3. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center
  4. Affirmations Lesbian and Gay Community Center
  5. The New York City Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project
Other LGBT charities that received horrible ratings include: Equal Rights Advocates (California), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California, Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), GLSEN, San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and The Trevor Project.

Notable charities not on the list at all

Making the top of the list for best LGBT charities include:
  1. Gay & Lesbian Leadership Institute
  2. Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
  3. Rescue Mission of Trenton (New Jersey)
  4. Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
  5. The Point Foundation (California)
  6. National Center for Lesbian Rights
  7. Human Rights Campaign (even though President Joe Solmonese makes a staggering $256,715.00 per year)
  8. Lambda Legal
The Charity Navigator is not without controversy however; they produce financial information based off the charities form 990, which although is a snapshot of the organization, is not considered a substitute for the annual audited financial statements.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Anti-gay Rev. Rick Warren will deliver the invocation at Obama's inauguration

Joe Solomnese, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, has sent a blistering letter to President-elect Obama, accusing him of delivering a "genuine blow" to the gay community in choosing Rev. Rick Warren to give the formal invocation at next month's inauguration. For once, I find myself in agreement with the Human Rights Campaign (scary):

Let me get right to the point. Your invitation to Reverend Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at your inauguration is a genuine blow to LGBT Americans. Our loss in California over the passage of Proposition 8 which stripped loving, committed same-sex couples of their given legal right to marry is the greatest loss our community has faced in 40 years. And by inviting Rick Warren to your inauguration, you have tarnished the view that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans have a place at your table.

Rick Warren has not sat on the sidelines in the fight for basic equality and fairness. In fact, Rev. Warren spoke out vocally in support of Prop 8 in California saying, "there is no need to change the universal, historical definition of marriage to appease 2 percent of our population ... This is not a political issue -- it is a moral issue that God has spoken clearly about." Furthermore, he continues to misrepresent marriage equality as silencing his religious views. This was a lie during the battle over Proposition 8, and it's a lie today.

Rev. Warren cannot name a single theological issue that he and vehemently, anti-gay theologian James Dobson disagree on. Rev. Warren is not a moderate pastor who is trying to bring all sides together. Instead, Rev. Warren has often played the role of general in the cultural war waged against LGBT Americans, many of whom also share a strong tradition of religion and faith.

We have been moved by your calls to religious leaders to own up to the homophobia and racism that has stood in the way of combating HIV and AIDS in this country. And that you have publicly called on religious leaders to open their hearts to their LGBT family members, neighbors and friends.

But in this case, we feel a deep level of disrespect when one of architects and promoters of an anti-gay agenda is given the prominence and the pulpit of your historic nomination. Only when Rev. Warren and others support basic legislative protections for LGBT Americans can we believe their claim that they are not four-square against our rights and dignity. In that light, we urge you to reconsider this announcement.

I lost all respect for HRC when the left the transgender community (cut them out) of critical federal legislation last year. Since then, HRC has been shunned by more than 59 organizations, and LGBT people have even protested at HRC events.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Gay marriage battle reaches Maine

Religious leaders and activists in the State of Maine are mobilizing for a legislative battle over the politically charged issue of gay marriage. In recent weeks, the politically charged issue has been heating up in Maine ahead of the new legislative session, which begins in early January (as it does in most states with part-time lawmakers, meaning the legislature is in session for a couple of months per year, and Committees supervise things in the interim).

Equality Maine is ramping up its game, after three years of a low-key public education campaign to highlight gay and lesbian issues. Equality Maine has a new adversary however, the newly-formed Maine Marriage Alliance, who is pushing for an amendment to the state constitution that would define marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Both sides agree that any bill allowing same-sex marriage that wins legislative approval is sure to be challenged in a people's veto referendum (which is distinctive to Maine, just as most states cannot "recall" their chief executive as California did former Governor Davis).

Both sides are also aware the State House will be largely focused on dealing with an $838 million gap in its next two-year budget. Three pieces of citizen-initiated legislation that could go before voters next November are also having an impact. The legislation might draw more conservative-minded voters to the polls and if a same-sex marriage bill passes the Legislature, it would assuredly be challenged and put to referendum.

Equality Maine provides to following video:

Monday, December 08, 2008

A Day Without Gay

December 10, 2008 is the national Gay Without Gay Day.

here for additional information.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Recession: LGBT organizations are disappearing

The auto industry isn't alone in a national recession. Statewide LGBT advocacy organizations are disappearing at an alarming rate; this is especially bad since complete equality cannot be achieved without statewide, county, and city organizations.

Arkansans for Human Rights, Kansas Unity, and Equality Mississippi. In addition, Lambda Legal has cut its staff by more than 10%.

The Washington Blade is running a story about some other organizations; click here to read it.

Mississippi's only LGBT rights organization closes

Equality Mississippi, the only LGBT civil rights organization in the state published the following statement Friday announcing it was terminating operations (edited):

It's with sadness and regret that we must inform you that due to financial reasons, the Board of Directors of Equality Mississippi voted to bring an end to Equality Mississippi. You may have already noticed our main web site gone and our phone disconnected. This is the reason.

Equality Mississippi, formed in March 2000 under the name Mississippi Gay Lobby, was the result of gay, lesbian and straight Mississippians coming together to lift a united fist and raise a united voice against the oppression and hatred of gay and lesbian Mississippians. On New Years Eve 1999/2000, Jamie Ray Tolbert was kidnapped from Joey's On The Beach, a gay bar in Biloxi at the time. He was beaten and strangled to death and his body was thrown out in the woods in Alabama. He was a close friend of Equality Mississippi founder and director Jody Renaldo. Jody's anger at the lack of equality in Mississippi and his hurt from his friend having been murdered, propelled him to finally stop being an arm-chair activist. He began assembling other Mississippians, regardless of sexual orientation or color or religious beliefs, that believed in basic dignity and equality for ALL human beings. And Mississippi Gay Lobby, now known as Equality Mississippi, was born.

While Equality Mississippi has always been a political gay and lesbian rights organization - meaning we didn't organize social events and parties, we were usually walking the hallways of the State Capitol building trying to educate the elected un-educated - the Board feels that now is the time for a revolution in the gay and lesbian realm in Mississippi. It's time for other people with passion and fire to come out of the closet and take on this fight.

Those of us that have been with Equality Mississippi for the entire 8 years, are of course feeling somber but we do have good memories of battles won (and no so good memories of battles lost). It was Equality Mississippi that publicly took on SkyTel and eventually got them to stop purchasing advertising during the queen of homophobia's radio show, the queen being "Dr." Laura Schlessinger. SkyTel is somewhat meaningless these days but back then, they were an MCI Worldcom company, big and well known in paging as AT&T is now known in cell phones. Then there is of course our many battles with Tupelo, Mississippi based American Family Association. We even got them to apologize once. Amazing! Our work with former state representative Erik Fleming saw an annual introduction of a bill that would have added "sexual orientation" to Mississippi's current hate crimes law. We've held protests from Gulfport to Oxford, Vicksburg to Meridian and many places in between.

At any rate, we just wanted to say to you: THANK YOU! Thank you for 8 years of putting your most treasured of belongings in our care: that being your right to live freely as the human being you are.

Iowa Supreme Court to hear gay marriage case this week

The Iowa Supreme Court this week will hear a same-sex marriage case that could become a national victory for the gay rights movement or a chance to reinforce Iowa's decade-old gay marriage ban.

Oral arguments begin Tuesday. Varnum vs. Brien, could make Iowa the first state in the Midwest to legalize same-sex marriage.

Couples filed lawsuits in 2005 after the Polk County recorder denied them marriage licenses. Last year, Polk County district Judge Robert Hanson declared the marriage ban unconstitutional and ignited a legal fire storm. Hanson later suspended his ruling until the Iowa Supreme Court decides the case.

Camilla Taylor, senior legal counsel for the national gay-rights group Lambda Legal, which helped bring the case, said the couples who filed the lawsuit are optimistic they will prevail.

The Iowa high court, she said, has traditionally led the nation on civil rights issues. For instance, she said, the court eliminated a ban on interracial marriage more than a century before the U.S. Supreme Court declared such laws unconstitutional.

Most Iowa Supreme Court rulings take two to six months to deliver after oral arguments, Iowa Judicial Branch spokesman Steve Davis said.

The high court acknowledged the case's high profile last week by extending the length of oral arguments and creating a special Web page for the case at Such decisions are rare and generally reserved for complex cases, Davis said.

Court administrators also plan to stream the oral arguments live on the Supreme Court Website.