Sunday, December 19, 2010

Kentucky's U.S. Senate Delegation Opposed Repeal of Don’t Ask Don't Tell (DADT); U.S. Senate Passes the Bill!

In a move being hailed as a milestone victory in the campaign for homosexual rights, the Senate acted Saturday to repeal the 17-year-old law that prohibits gays and lesbians from serving openly in the U.S. military.

The 65-31 vote, which came after a charged and sometimes vitriolic debate, was surprisingly bipartisan. Eight Republicans joined Democrats in voting to repeal the policy.

Conservative organizations said the vote didn't reflect the sentiments of rank-and-file military members and should not have taken place so close to the end of the current session of Congress. The Massachusetts Family Institute blasted their U.S. Senate Republicans, including U.S. Senator Scott Brown, who broke rank with their party on the vote.

"The American military exists for only one purpose — to fight and win wars. Yet it has now been hijacked and turned into a tool for imposing on the country a radical social agenda," said Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council.

Implementation of the law remains at least a couple of months off. Both U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Admiral Mike Mullen, who wanted the law repealed, must first certify that policies are in place to conduct the repeal "consistent with military standards for readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention."

U.S. Senator Jim Bunning (R-Kentucky), did not vote.

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) opposed the move, and characterized the move as "ill-considered," adding that the move "is harmful during a time of war."

Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS), disagreed, cited a Pentagon study that said the change would cause little disruption within the ranks of the military. Admiral Mullen made it clear that he supports repeal. "From my personal perspective, absolutely."

Admiral Mullen continued: "We value integrity as an institution, asking individuals to come in and lie about who they are every day goes counter to who we are as an institution."

Kentucky's Congressional Delegation in the U.S. Senate are an embarrassment the entire Commonwealth.

When states such as the United Kingdom, the Republic of China (Taiwan), the Commonwealth of Australia, the State of Israel, Argentina, Canada, Kingdom of Spain, Kingdom of the Netherlands, all member states of the European Union and every original NATO signatory except Turkey and the United States, allow homosexuals to service openly, what does that say about the people we have elected to represent Kentucky in the United States Congress?

In the area of gay rights, and in human rights, the United States has fallen behind other States, we are no longer the world leader in liberty and freedoms.

The United States recently had to answer to the United Nations for human rights violations.

--> Posted by a volunteer Community Blogger of Kentucky Equality Federation. This is the official blog of Kentucky Equality Federation. Posts contained in this blog may not be the official position of Kentucky Equality Federation, its volunteer officers, directors, management, supported organizations, allies or coalitions, but rather the personal opinions or views of the volunteer Community Bloggers. The opinions or views expressed in the blog are protected by Section 1 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky as non-slanderous free speech; blogs are personal views or opinions and not journalistic news sites.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Artist shares "Love is Love" music video with Marriage Equality Kentucky

Marriage Equality Kentucky received the following video and message:

I'd like to share with you the music video I just released for the first single of my new CD, "Revelations". The song is called, "Love is Love", and it is a song about equality (especially for the gay and lesbian community). Thanks very much for your time and consideration! - Jay Jacobson

Mr. Jacobson, Marriage Equality Kentucky is happy to post this for our readers. 

---> Posted by a volunteer Community Blogger of Kentucky Equality Federation. This is the official blog of Kentucky Equality Federation. Posts contained in this blog may not be the official position of Kentucky Equality Federation, its volunteer officers, directors, management, supported organizations, allies or coalitions, but rather the personal opinions or views of the volunteer Community Bloggers. The opinions or views expressed in the blog are protected by Section 1 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky as non-slanderous free speech; blogs are personal views or opinions and not journalistic news sites.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

In Loving Memory: World AIDS Day - History and Tribute

Today is World AIDS Day, first established in 1987 by James W. Bunn and Thomas Netter, two public information officers for the United Nations Global Program on AIDS at the United Nations World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.

This year there is even greater cause for celebration as the United Nations World Health Organization - Joint Program on HIV/AIDS and global scientists unveiled a drug that reduces the chances of infection for gay and bisexual men. (see related official blog post)

However, no one and nothing can replace the millions who have died from this global epidemic, and no apology is sufficient from the United States government for turning a blind eye during the initial stages of the epidemic.

HIV/AIDS was initially called the "gay cancer" and ignored by the highest levels of the United States government. Only the Departments of Public Health in the states of California and New York immediately responded to the initial outbreak of the "gay cancer."

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention couldn't squeeze a dime out of Regan Administration for the "gay cancer" until straight people began contracting the disease, eventually realizing that global blood supplies, ready for patient transfusions during routine surgeries carried the disease and there was no way to test for the disease or know what blood was infected.

Ryan Wayne White, a teenager from the state of Indiana became the poster child for HIV/AIDS in the United States, after being expelled from middle school in 1984 because of his infection. A hemophiliac, he became infected with HIV from contaminated blood.

The perception that the disease was a "gay cancer" shifted as Ryan White and other prominent HIV-infected people, such as Magic Johnson, the Ray brothers and Kimberly Bergalis, appeared in the media to advocate for more AIDS research and public education to address the epidemic.

The U.S. Congress passed a major piece of AIDS legislation, the Ryan White Care Act, shortly after White's death in 1990.  Until 1990, only States, celebrities, and private companies provided significant funding for HIV/AIDS research. 

The "gay cancer" was officially named Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in the final stages of the virus, and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in the initial stages.

AIDS killed more than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007 according to United Nations World Health Organization estimates, and it is estimated that 33.2 million people live with the disease worldwide, including 330,000 children.

In total, the United Nations estimates that 60 million people have been infected, leaving 14 million orphaned children.

AIDS stigma still exists around the world in a variety of ways, including ostracism, rejection, discrimination and avoidance of HIV infected people. During the 2010 Legislative Session, the Kentucky House of Representatives again failed to renew funding for the Kentucky AIDS Drug Assistance Program despite pleas from Kentucky Equality Federation and 11 other organizations, placing hundreds on a "waiting list" to die because they cannot afford the life saving medication without government assistance.

WATCH: History Uncut - Ryan White in 1986 In this clip from "History Uncut", Ryan White describes his experience returning to school after being diagnosed with AIDS.

We give thanks to the following celebrities who made significant contributions to AIDS awareness, held fundraisers, or made personal visits to homes or hospitals to visit patients:
  • Diana, Princess of Wales, who visited hospitals with HIV patients not only in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth of Nations but around the world, and against the advice of her security detail, touched (and even hugged) HIV infected patients.
  • Elizabeth Taylor, an international legend (actress), who held countless fundraisers for HIV/AIDS research.  By 2001, Taylor had raised over $60 million dollars for HIV/AIDS research. Taylor helped start the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), as well as her own AIDS foundation, the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation (ETAF).  
  • Michael Jackson, the "King of Pop," who visited Ryan White personally and successfully pleaded with the Clinton Administration to increase AIDS research funding.  Jackson also personally donated money to AIDS research and held fundraisers.
  • Sir Elton John, an international legend (singer and piano player), who visited Ryan White personally, has held countless fundraisers for HIV/AIDS research, written songs, and created his own private AIDS foundation.
  • Tom Burch, Representative in the Kentucky House of Representatives and Chairman of the House Health and Welfare CommitteeRepresentative Burch, has served the Commonwealth of Kentucky since 1972; Representative Burch sponsored or co-sponsored most of the Commonwealth's HIV/AIDS awareness, education, and prevention legislation. (give special thanks to Representative Burch)

The following celebrities died from AIDS and raised international awareness of the disease:
  • Amanda Blake (Died at 60 years old), Best known for playing Kitty Russell in the television series Gunsmoke.
  • Tom Fuccello (Died at 56 years old), best known for playing Senator Dave Culver from in the television series Dallas.
  • Dack Rambo (Died at 52 years old), best known for playing Jeff Sonnett on the television series The Guns of Will Sonnett, and Jack Ewing in the television series Dallas.
  • Larry Riley, (Died at 39 years old), best known for playing Frank Williams in the television series Knots Landing, a Dallas spin-off.
  • Rock Hudson (Died at 59 years old), an American legend, starring on over 40 films, as well as popular television series as a special guest star such as I Love Lucy, and Dynasty.
  • David Oliver (Died at 30 years old), best known for playing in the daytime soap opera Another World, and A Year in the Life with Sarah Jessica Parker.
  • Anthony Perkins (Died at 60 years old), an American legend, starring in over 30 films, but best remembered for playing Norman Bates in the Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho.
  • Robert Reed (Died at 59 years old), best known for playing Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch.
  • Liberace (Died at 67 years old), an internationally famous American entertainer and pianist. During the 1950's and 1970's, he was the highest-paid entertainer in the world.
  • Freddie Mercury (Died at 45 years old), an internationally famous entertainer, and the first major rock star to die from AIDS. Mercury was the lead singer of the rock band Queen.
  • Richard A. Heyman (Died at 59 years old), Mayor of Key West, Florida and one of the first openly gay elected officials.
  • Larry McKeon (Died at 63 years old), Representative in the Illinois House of Representatives. McKeon the first openly gay member lawmaker elected in the State of Illinois. 
Following are the ending credits of the HBO film "And The Band Played On," based on the best-selling 1987 non-fiction book And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Shilts.

-> Posted by a volunteer Community Blogger of Kentucky Equality Federation. This is the official blog of Kentucky Equality Federation. Posts contained in this blog may not be the official position of Kentucky Equality Federation, its volunteer officers, directors, management, supported organizations, allies or coalitions, but rather the personal opinions or views of the volunteer Community Bloggers. The opinions or views expressed in the blog are protected by Section 1 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky as non-slanderous free speech; blogs are personal views or opinions and not journalistic news sites.

Monday, November 29, 2010

World reacts to new drug that helps prevent HIV/AIDS in healthy gay and bisexual men

Only days after Michel Sidibé, executive director of the United Nations Joint Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) praised Pope Benedict XVI for announcing "the use of condoms is justified when intended to reduce the risk of HIV infection," the agency also released information on a new drug that helps prevent healthy gay men from catching it through sex with an infected partner.

"The announcement will make cooperation easier with faith-based organizations, in the fight against HIV and AIDS," Michel Sidibé hold world reporters. "This is an important step forward." The Roman Catholic Church rejects condoms as a means of birth control and had for many years said they are not a means of preventing AIDS.

United Nations' AIDS-fighting agency (UNAIDS) has been an even bigger priority at the United Nations since the current executive director, Michel Sidibé is also an Under Secretary-General of the United Nations, reporting directly to the Deputy Secretary-General of the world organization.

Kentucky Slides Backward with HIV/AIDS Treatment and Prevention

Nearly one in five gay and bisexual men in 21 major U.S. cities are infected with HIV, and nearly half of them do not know it.

HIV has reached epidemic levels again in the Bluegrass Region of the Commonwealth, especially among the Latino and Black communities.

Kentucky Equality Federation fought hard for new funding for the Kentucky AIDS Drug Assistance Program, as well as HIV/AIDS prevention during the 2010 Kentucky Legislative Session.  

Though the legislation also carried the support of Kentucky House Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Tom Burch, as well as the Kentucky HIV/AIDS Advocacy Group, AVOL, Lexington Gay Lesbian Service Organization (GLSO), House of Ruth, OUTsource at the University of Kentucky, and a wide variety of other organizations, the funding was axed by the Revenue and Appropriate Committee, particularly, the House Subcommittee on Human Resources during negations with Kentucky Equality Federation officers.  Why?  Senior citizen programs took priority because of the upcoming election as told to Kentucky Equality Federation negotiators. 

"We need to reinvigorate our response to preventing HIV among gay and bisexual men," Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, said in a telephone interview with the media giant Reuters. "We can't allow HIV to continue its devastating toll among gay and bisexual men, and in particular, among young black men."

The "Breakthrough"

Scientists announced a "breakthrough" in the fight against AIDS for gay and bisexual men. A pill already used to treat HIV infection turns out to be a powerful weapon in protecting healthy gay men from catching the virus, a global study found.

Daily doses of Truvada cut the risk of infection by 44 percent when given with condoms, counseling and other prevention services. Men who took their pills most faithfully had even more protection, up to 73 percent.

Researchers had feared the pills might give a false sense of security and make men less likely to use condoms or to limit their partners, but the opposite happened — risky sex declined.

UNAIDS warns that condoms remain the first line of defense.

United Nations World AIDS Day is December 1st of each year.  

The results are "a major advance" that can help curb the epidemic in gay men, said Dr. Kevin Fenton, AIDS prevention chief at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But he warned they may not apply to people exposed to HIV through male-female sex, drug use or other ways. Studies in those groups are under way now.

Charles Karel Bouley, a blogger with the Huffington Post slammed the new drug however in his latest blog post, stating: "We need a cure for HIV and AIDS. We've always had a way to prevent it, it's called common sense and responsibility, though of course mistakes and accidents can happen. Condoms, while not easily accessible to everyone, are free at most clinics or Centers in the U.S., minimal at most drug stores and information is everywhere. If one day I turn up positive, I'll know why. It won't be because I didn't take a pill."

---> Posted by a volunteer Community Blogger of Kentucky Equality Federation. This is the official blog of Kentucky Equality Federation. Posts contained in this blog may not be the official position of Kentucky Equality Federation, its volunteer officers, directors, management, supported organizations, allies or coalitions, but rather the personal opinions or views of the volunteer Community Bloggers. The opinions or views expressed in the blog are protected by Section 1 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky as non-slanderous free speech; blogs are personal views or opinions and not journalistic news sites.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Admiral Mike Mullen: "End Don't Ask, Don't Tell" as soon as possible

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Sunday that Congress shouldn't wait to repeal the military's controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy which forces gay, lesbian and trans-gender members to hide their personal lives or face expulsion from the service.

"The other piece that is out there that is very real is the courts are very active on this, and my concern is that at some point in time the courts could change this law and in that not give us the right amount of time to implement it," Admiral Mike Mullen told ABC's Christiane Amanpour. "I think it's much better done if it's going to get done, it's much better done through legislature than it is out of the courts."

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS), currently Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, is by law the highest ranking military officer in the United States armed forces, and the primary military adviser to the the National Security Council, the Homeland Security Council and the Secretary of Defense.

Mullen refused to comment on the leaked results of a Pentagon survey that reportedly says there is widespread support for repealing the policy, and that doing so would cause only "minimal risk" to soldiers.  "We'll have this report done here and to Secretary Gates in the next couple of weeks by December 1st, and I won't make any comments on where I think we need to go until that report is done," he said.

But Mullen made it clear that he supports repeal. "From my personal perspective, absolutely."

"I think it belies us as an institution. We value integrity as an institution," Mullen continued. "Asking individuals to come in and lie about who they are every day goes counter to who we are as an institution." Mullen expressed concern about the head of the US Marine Corps, who said earlier this month it was the wrong time to overturn the ban on gays serving openly.

"There's risk involved; I'm trying to determine how to measure that risk," Gen. James Amos said at the beginning of November. "This is not a social thing. This is combat effectiveness. That's what the country pays its Marines to do."

"What concerned me about his most recent comments, it came at a time where we actually had the draft report in hand, and we had all agreed that we would speak to this privately until we completed the report and made our recommendations up the chain," Mulled said.

But the Join Chiefs chairman is confident that Amos will comply should the "don't ask, don't tell" policy be repealed.

"He basically said that if this law changes, we are going to implement it, and we are going to implement it better than anybody else," Mullen told CNN's Candy Crowley Sunday.

NOTICE:  This post is courtesy of Raw Story.  At the time of this post, it is BREAKING NEWS.

---> Posted by a volunteer Community Blogger of Kentucky Equality Federation. This is the official blog of Kentucky Equality Federation. Posts contained in this blog may not be the official position of Kentucky Equality Federation, its volunteer officers, directors, management, supported organizations, allies or coalitions, but rather the personal opinions or views of the volunteer Community Bloggers. The opinions or views expressed in the blog are protected by Section 1 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky as non-slanderous free speech; blogs are personal views or opinions and not journalistic news sites.

Monday, November 15, 2010

13 arrested for protesting Don't Ask, Don't Tell; Cindy and Megan McCain blast the Republican Party

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) made some of his strongest remarks yet in defense of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" military policy that prohibits open homosexual service, suggesting Sunday that an imminent Pentagon study on the issue is biased and arguing that a bill that would overturn it should not pass during the lame-duck session of Congress that began Monday.

His wife, Cindy McCain disagrees with him however, as does his daughter, Meghan McCain. Just the other day, Cindy McCain was part of an all-star anti-bullying video in which she criticized the government's failure to let gays be open in the military. Afterward however, Cindy McCain backed down and Tweeted that she supported her husband's stance on DADT. 

Cindy McCain continues to stand by her statement however that the "government(s) [local, federal, and state] treat the [gay] community like second-class citizens."

Today, thirteen gay rights activists handcuffed themselves to the White House fence (pictured above), calling for U.S. President Barack Obama to work harder for repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" ban on gay service members serving openly.

Several taunted the president, calling for him to come out of the White House and display more courage supporting equal rights for gays. One man shouted, "President Obama is afraid to act."

One of those arrested was a Catholic priest, the Rev. Geoff Farrow, who has spoken in favor of same sex marriage.

Megan McCain (pictured), the daughter of U.S. Senator John McCain, and the oldest of the four children John and Cindy McCain have has become something of a star to the gay and lesbian community for her many public appearances saying the Republican hatred of gay marriage and its inability to tolerate and grant equality to gay and lesbian people will be the undoing of the Republican Party.

In her recent book, "Dirty Sexy Politics," Megan McCain complains that the base of the Republican Party is becoming narrower and narrower, and is no longer the party of individual freedom promoted by Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. Megan McCain has also described herself as a Republican who is "liberal on social issues."

"We need to make room for all Republicans," she writes in her book. "That means my gay friends ... shouldn’t have to pretend they aren't gay – or have an unequal, Don't Ask, Don't Tell kind of lifestyle – if they want to find a place in the Republican Party."

Will this family split make for a bit of awkwardness around the dinner table on Thanksgiving?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Kentucky political candidate mocks Wear Purple Day (Spirit Day)

Kentucky Equality Federation founder Jordan Palmer got into a fierce debate with Republican Kentucky Auditor of Public Accounts candidate John T. Kemper III.

Kemper stated the "Wear Purple Day," or "Spirit Day," was a "meaningless gesture," and also stated: "For me Homosexuality is a sin, the same as another sin, adultery, murder, cheating, stealing etc."

Hillbilly Report has the entire story.

However, the debate did not stop with Hillbilly Report. Palmer had posted a personal note condemning Kemper's campaign updates and stated:

OK, John T. Kemper III just annoyed me with this statement: "Got up worship the God who created the universe then went door to door for a great conservative Lyen Crews in the House! The best part was the great response I received from the folks in Woodford County! Carl Rollins is going HOME and look for a job with Ben "Vote & Hide" Chandler!"

Lyen Crews (R) is running for Representative in Kentucky's 56th House District Fayette (part), Franklin (part), and Woodford. Crews is trying to unseat junior Representative Carl Rollins (D), elected in 2007.

His [Kemper's] other post says: "Thank you Scott County for a warm welcome during the Tea Party! Republicans are go to take a huge step towards restoring sanity to government. Young gun Andy Barr, Georgetown Mayor Karen Tingle-Sames a TRUE Conservative and Tea Party favorite Rand Paul! Come on November 2, 2010!"
I personally do not want to know about your conservative anti-LGBTI prayers to God (who you no doubt also believe hates LGBTI people).  If your "morals" are so much better than ours [the LGBT community], they why not get on a Horse and ride with them out of here?

"I've had it with Republicans and Tea Party idiots spouting off stupid remarks such as Kentucky Whitley County Judge Executive Pat White, Jr., State of New York Governor's candidate Carl Paladino, the Republican Party of Texas, or Minnesota Tea Party Leader Tim Ravndal.

YOU people are the reasons for the gay suicides and school bullying and those like you. Don't you understand that when you open that mouth of yours just to put your other foot in it with your self-serving anti-gay dogma that a child is listening on some other room or reading it on the internet."

A lot of people have commented on Palmer's personal "note" to Kemper.  Kemper himself got into another heated debate with Palmer on the "note" but has since stopped responding since so many people have attacked Kemper and defended Palmer.  

NOTICE: Kentucky Equality Federation supported "Wear Purple Day," but did not authorize or sanction the comments made by Palmer, they are his own personal statements.  Palmer is a co-founder of Kentucky Equality Federation who resigned as president after serving since its creation. At the request of the Board of Directors, Palmer returned as "Interim President" until a replacement is found.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Comments about National Coming Out Day, School Bullying, and Violence

On National Coming Out Day, four (4) assaults or incidents of school bullying have subsequently been reported to Kentucky Equality Federation's Discrimination, Hate Crimes, and School Bullying Committee.

As a result, Kentucky Equality Federation is developing a "youth mentor" program for national coming out day.  Kentucky's youth who wish to "come out" may discuss it with a LGBTI mentor prior to doing so. 

Statements about National Coming Out Day (taken on National Coming Out Day):

I think that "coming out" should be done on a person's own time and terms. I feel that National Coming Out Day can cause pressure to someone that is not ready to deal with all of the negativity that they could face. One of my friends was basically peer pressured into coming out on that day. Sure they had all the support and praise on that day, but they did not have a support system in place for the time after they had to live the rest of their life with their announcement. I think it can be a bit irresponsible, especially those that do not have family and friends to be there as a support system. - Dean Byrd, Treasurer and Board Secretary

I think this is a time for those of use that are out to let our voices be heard, that we will not tolerate hate. Be a walking billboard today tape a sign to your shirt with a statistic about gays teenagers and suicide. Yes we came out but there are so many others living in fear. Today is a day to let them speak through those of us who are out. - Ben "Poynter" Brannock, High School and University Outreach Director

It is my belief that anyone who is in the closet should only come out if they feel they are ready. Particularly with teens, bad timing could mean unwanted consequences. - Halyn Roth, Facebook Coordinator

Special Message from Bette Midler about the national suicides and school bullying:

As a mother, I am ashamed of all the parents who have failed to teach even the most basic human lessons to their children, "Live and let Live" and "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." The normal, everyday kindness that we took for granted just a few years ago is a thing of the past, and I for one, mourn it deeply. Technology, the Internet, with its anonymity, have allowed people to behave like beasts, pouncing on the weak and howling with laughter when they inflict a wound, that only the strongest could survive. What are we doing to ourselves? How are we to survive as a nation, when hate seems to be the only thing that motivates us??

Four children are dead by their own hand because they just couldn't take any more. How many more are we going to sacrifice to the hyenas? Isn't it time to stop??

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Obama Administration expected to appear Don't Ask Don't Tell Ruling; Gay Community Upset with the U.S. President

Legal scholars questioned Wednesday whether a federal judge in California can bar the entire armed services from forcing out openly gay service members, as the Obama administration scrambled to decide how to respond to the sweeping ruling.

Vikram Amar, a University of California Davis law professor, agreed that the judge's authority extends only to the plaintiffs in this specific case, not to the entire nation. "'The 'don't ask, don't tell' case was not certified as a class action," Amar said. Most federal appellate courts have said that a judge cannot issue a ruling that goes well beyond the parties who brought the suit.

According to Time Magazine:

It's a box Obama finds himself in more and more often when it comes to gay rights issues. Even as U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips was issuing her worldwide injunction to the military Tuesday, the Administration filed notice it will appeal a federal ruling in Massachusetts that earlier this year struck down another law that is anathema to gay rights supporters, the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. In its filing, the Administration called the law unfair, and said it ought never to have been passed, but nevertheless argued it does not violate the Constitution. That prompted gay bloggers and others to cry foul, warning that their patience with Obama, who most argue has yet to keep his promises to gay and lesbian supporters, is running out.

More than 12,500 people have been removed from the military since "don't ask, don't tell" went into effect, and investigations of service members believed to be gay or lesbian have been continuing.

Pentagon officials said Wednesday they had not received any guidance on whether to continue with pending cases, though Pentagon attorneys were studying that issue.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Gay Americans have arrived at a 'teachable moment'

A wonderful Associated Press article:

Often feeling marginalized in political discourse or grousing that they're used as political pawns, they have the nation's attention — and sympathy — after a recent spate of teenage suicides and two apparent anti-gay attacks in the heart of their community.

Same-sex marriage and gays in the military remain on the political front burner, but general education and anti-discrimination campaigns are drawing a wider audience. While advocates hesitate to appear as if they're capitalizing on tragedy, some observers say the political gains from it could come naturally.

Rep. Barney Frank, the nation's first openly gay congressman, drew a parallel to the violent images of trained animals attacking civil rights protesters in the segregated South — and how they helped galvanize white sentiment in favor of black civil rights.

"The police dogs helped the movement," he said. "It's when bigotry shows itself at its worst that people respond."

Several teenagers from California to Rhode Island committed suicide in the past few weeks, including New Jersey college student Tyler Clementi, who jumped off a bridge into the Hudson River after, prosecutors say, his roommate and a friend secretly streamed his sexual encounter with a man on the Web. New York police reported two anti-gay assaults over the weekend, including one at the bar where riots credited with the birth of the modern gay rights movement took place.

Sympathy and outrage have manifested themselves in campus vigils, and a viral video by Ellen DeGeneres, and even state legislation addressing the State of New Jersey case. Politicians including U.S. Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez attended a "statewide town meeting" at Rutgers on Wednesday night in honor of Clementi and bullying victims elsewhere in New Jersey.

Political strategists think the tears and reflection might be an opportunity to advance gay rights.

"Every once in a while, there's something about the victim and the way it happens that transfers from tragedy into a teachable moment," said Richard Socarides, an adviser to President Bill Clinton on gay and lesbian issues.

It's not a moment of optimism for all gay rights activists.

"There have been many high-profile incidents of adolescent suicide, even pre-adolescent suicide where kids have ended their own lives because of despair and hopelessness," said Ethan Geto, a lobbyist who works on gay rights issues. "This has not yet led to a comprehensive, truly meaningful social-slash-governmental reaction."

But there are signs this time might be different.

Christian A. Berle, deputy executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay GOP group, noted that the conservative tea party movement that has captured much of the Republican zeitgeist has not focused as much on social issues as has the party establishment.

"A lot of them are saying that these fiscal issues should be the foremost concern," Berle said. "Time and time I've heard that banning gay marriage would not give anyone a job; banning gays from serving in the military is not going to gain any jobs."

Billy Kluttz, a co-president of the gay student organization at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, said his organization is holding a vigil Thursday to honor the suicide and assault victims and spread awareness of violence that can confront young gays.

Straight students he talks to are sympathetic about what happened to Clementi, the student at New Jersey's Rutgers University, he said.

"People are more receptive," Kluttz, a junior from Concord, N.C., said. "We use that for building more ally support."

The suicide problem, like bullying, has long been a major concern among rights groups and carefully tracked by gay-oriented media outlets, but the widespread attention is new — even as formerly far-fetched ideas like legalized gay marriage have become reality in some places.

"While we have openly gay politicians and gay characters on television, the reality of life still seems dire for some of these young people," said Michael Cole, spokesman for Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights group. Despite increasing tolerance for gays on some fronts, the most-heard insult at schools is, "That's so gay," he said.

Hate-crime laws came into being in several states after Matthew Shepard, a gay, 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming, was found beaten and tied to a remote fence post in 1998.

In the time since then, gay rights have become a mainstay in the national political conversation — but marriage and the military have gotten the most attention and seen key court victories in both areas.

Former Clinton adviser Socarides, now a lawyer in New York, said the suicides can demonstrate why gays should be allowed to marry, join the military and work without fear of being fired because of their sexual orientation.

"When you speak out for full equality now, as opposed to partial equality, or incremental equality," he said, "you send a message to everybody, including the bullies, that everyone is equal."

In New Jersey, lawmakers are preparing to introduce a bill to toughen the state's anti-bullying laws. That push was under way months ago, before Clementi's suicide gave the problem a public face. But Steven Goldstein, chairman of the gay rights group Garden State Equality, said it's possible the bill will be adopted more quickly because of Clementi's death.

"Any tragedy points out the need for action, but believe me, we'd rather not have this tragedies happen at all," he said. "Don't we elect our public officials to have foresight and vision to prevent tragedy?"

Associated Press writer Glen Johnson in Boston and AP news researcher Julie Reed in New York contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

CNN fires broadcaster for racist comments

Hats off the CNN for having a zero tolerance policy for racist comments!

CNN has fired Rick Sanchez, who now joins a long list of broadcasters who talked before they thought – or at least thought through the implications of what they were saying – and paid the consequences with their career.

On Thursday, Sanchez called Comedy Central's Jon Stewart "a bigot," and he suggested that Jews run CNN and "all the other" networks. He was speaking on the satellite radio show "Stand Up! With Pete Dominick." Within 24 hours, CNN had fired Sanchez.

In the radio interview Thursday, Sanchez suggested that his career had been held back because he is Cuban-American. He railed against "elite, Northeast establishment liberals" who he said are prejudiced against "a guy like me." And he linked that point of view to Stewart and to his own bosses at CNN.

That might have raised eyebrows and earned him a private rebuke, but then he took his comments farther.

Singling out Stewart, Sanchez continued: "I'm telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart. And to imply that somehow they, the people in this country who are Jewish, are an oppressed minority?"

That was too much for CNN executives, who fired him simply by saying: "Rick Sanchez is no longer with the company."

  • The State of Israel does not have a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy; gay men may serve openly. 
  • Though Israel does not perform gay marriages, the State does recognize gay marriages performed in other countries (so, someone legally married in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is legally married in the State of Israel).
  • Same-sex marriage in Israel is supported by most of the population according to a 2009 poll.

According to the Christian Science Monitor:  The whole episode reflects an era in which not only "shock jocks" but a wide range of broadcasters feel increasing pressure to incite an emotional reaction from listeners and viewers and to start rhetorical fights. But for most outlets, there’s still a line not to be crossed involving race and religion.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Anti-gay bullying has led to two more U.S. suicides in Texas and New Jersey

Anti-gay bullying has led to two more suicides.

In Houston, Texas, the parents of eighth-grader have said that their son shot himself in the head after constantly being harassed at Hamilton Middle School.  His mother and stepfather, said that other students verbally and physically bullied him, and said that the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District ignored their complaints; the district responded that it never heard from parents, school officials or other students.

Also, a freshman at New Jersey's Rutgers University committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge after other students broadcast the freshman making out with another man (without the victim's knowledge).

Report school bullying in Kentucky to Kentucky Equality Federation's Discrimination, School Bullying, and Hate Crimes Committee.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Repeal of DADT is dead; the reason only one bill should be considered at a time

The United States Congress failed to repeal the 17-year old "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy because of other items attached to the bill.

This is yet another reason bills should not be permitted to be attached to each other.  A perfect example is what the Kentucky Senate tried to do this year with House Bill 350This is a broken system in need of repair.

U.S. Senate Republicans say they blocked the bill because Democrats included new spending of $726 billion.

Why can't the Kentucky Legislature and the National Legislature (Congress) focus on one bill at a time instead of attaching amendments, and hiding legislation in other bills?

Click here for additional information about how bills and amendments are hidden in other bills just to get them passed.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Kentucky Social Worker Terminated for being a Lesbian!

A woman was suspended last week from a job with social services for suspension of being a lesbian. The woman wishes to remain anonymous.

The Mt. Washington, KY based Sunrise Children's Services Mission Statement says: "Sunrise Children's Services provides care and hope for hurting families and children through Christ-centered ministries."

According to the discrimination report, sent directly to former Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer, who continues to act as public advocate for the organization: "Yesterday they called me to the office and told me I was suspended without pay on suspicions that I am a lesbian."

The woman has now been terminated.

According to the plaintiff: "This job was everything I have ever wanted. They sought me out, made me an offer too good to turn down. To be approached the way I was was heartbreaking; unbelievable is a better word. I'm going to move on, professionally and try to figure out what lesson I can learn from this other than the shallowness and closed mindedness that still exists today.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Associate History Professor at EKU opposes domestic partnerships which are effective January 2011

Todd Hartch an Associate Professor in the history department of Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) recently wrote to The Eastern Progress (EKU's student newspaper) that EKU offering domestic partnerships beginning January 2011 "undermines marriage."

Hartch went on to say: "The policy endorses the practice of unmarried couples living together and confers marriage-like benefits to them. It says to EKU, to Madison County, and to Kentucky that sexual relationships outside of marriage are not only legitimate but important enough to necessitate university sponsorship."

Hartch goes to the say that offering domestic partnerships at EKU violates the Commonwealth's Constitution. Without knowing what kind of "history" Hartch teaches, he should remember then Kentucky Attorney General Greg Stumbo (now Speaker of the House) ruled on this.

It is somewhat scary that a history professor doesn't know a critical ruling of the Kentucky Department of Law, headed by the Attorney General.

As United We Stand - Kentucky's LGBTI News reported on June 01, 2007:
Kentucky's top law enforcement officer, Attorney General Greg Stumbo (D) ruled domestic-partner benefits unconstitutional today, but left the door open for universities and colleges around the commonwealth to make them constitutional by broadening their definition of domestic-partner.

House Representative Stan Lee (R), currently running for the Office of Attorney General to replace Stumbo was one of two representatives to request the opinion (no surprise there).

“They still have the flexibility to allow and to offer their health insurance plan and its benefit structure to other people,” Stumbo said. “They cannot define the class of people in a manner that would be creating a legal status similar to that of marriage.”

The University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville currently offer domestic-partner benefits.

The professor is not the chief law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth or an attorney, and the Kentucky Attorney General left the door wide open to allow this! Perhaps Hartch should read more history.