National briefs

Posted on 11 May 2006 at 8:30pm
By Wire Reports

DNC Gay and Lesbian Leadershi Council names new director
The Democratic National Committee announced May 3 that Brian Bond has been named as executive director of the committee’s Gay and Lesbian Leadership Council.

Bond’s appointment came just one day after Howard Dean, committee chair, fired Donald Hitchcock, council director, in a move that drew harsh criticism from some activists who believe Hitchcock was fired in retaliation to public criticism of the committee by his partner, Paul Yandura.

A statement released May 3 said Dean has “embraced an expanded vision of the [leadersip council] as a program that integrates both political and financial operations.”

The statement said Bond’s duties will include coordinating political strategy related GLBT issues, strengthening efforts to organize in the community and leading the committee’s efforts to consult with strong Democratic-allied groups like the National Stonewall Democrats and reach out to groups like the Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Palm Beach school district draws criticism for website blocking policy
The Palm Beach County school district has drawn criticism in recent weeks for a policy that blocks access to GLBT websites while allowing students to surf anti-gay sites, according to a report published Tuesday in the Palm Beach Post.

Students are allowed access to websites such as the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality site, the Traditional Values Coalition site, the American Family Association site and the Focus on the Family site, all of which oppose GLBT rights. But sites supporting GLBT rights, such as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, the Gay-Straight Alliance Network and Out and Equal Workplace Advocates are all blocked from the student’s access.

The censorship prompted the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council to contact the ACLU and Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund for help. James Green, a lawyer with ACLU, said he plans to review the case.

“If their blocking software prevents kids, particularly middle and high school kids, from having access to information about gay rights and public health issues, but on the other hand allows access to religious group websites that are hostile to gay and lesbian legal rights and public health, that constitutes censorship,” Green said.

Gay Games organizers fire executive director just 10 weeks before event
With about 10 weeks left before the opening of the Gay Games this July in Chicago, organizers have fired executive director Brian McGuinness, according to a May 4 report in the Chicago Tribune.

The event’s board of directors replaced McGuinness with managing director Christine Snell, who was a board member, according to Kevin Boyer, co-vice chair of the Chicago Gay Games.

Boyer would not say why McGuinness was fired, and the Tribune was unable to contact McGuinness or Snell for comment.

“‘Dyke March’ set to kick off Los Angeles Pride Week in June
The West Hollywood Lesbian Visibility Committee and Christopher Street West will present the annual “Dyke March” on June 9 to kick off the 2006 Los Angeles Pride Week, organizers announced.

The march, starting at 7:30 p.m. at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and San Vicente Boulevard, celebrates the strides the GLBT community has made while drawing inspiration for the future, organizers said.

The theme for this year’s parade and festival is “Our Agenda: Love. Equality. Pride.”

State Sen. Sheila Kuehl will be the keynote speaker. Also scheduled to speak are the Rev. Pat Langlois of Metropolitan Community Church, West Hollywood Mayor John Heilman and City Council members; Patti DiLuigi of the CSW board; radio producer/director Rita Gonzales; author Jen Gomez; and Marquita Thomas, founder of Out and About, a social, networking and activist organization for lesbians of color.

A free concert and dance will follow the march at the main stage of the festival grounds.

For information call 323-848-6510 (323-848-6496 for the hearing-impaired).

Hawaii, Vermont pass legislation protecting transgender people
Hawaii and Vermont both recently passed historic legislation to protect transgender people and gender-nonconforming people from discrimination, according to Simon Aronoff with the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Hawaii’s second transgender-inclusive bill, explicity prohibiting discriminatory practices in public accommodations based on “gender identity or expression or sexual orientation, passed into law on May 3. The bill passed into law without the signature of Gov. Linda Lingle, who last year vetoed a bill banning anti-trans discrimination in employment.

On May 5, the Vermont Legislature approved a bill prohibiting discrimination based on a person’s gender identity or expression in employment, housing and public accommodations. If Gov. Jim Douglas allows the measure to become law, it will make Vermont the ninth state to pass a specifically trans-inclusive anti-discrimination law.

Vermont’s hate crimes law already includes protections based on gender identity and expression.

GLBT elder group names prominent activist to be new executive director
SAGE, Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders, named longtime GLBT rights activist Michael Adams as its new executive director.

Adams is currently director of education and public affairs for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. He was previously associate director of the Lesbian and Gay Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union and is a graduate of Harvard College and Stanford Law School.

Adams has received numerous awards and honors, including being named one of the country’s 100 most influential GLBT leaders by Out magazine.
Adams replaces Terry Kaelber as executive director of SAGE, effective June 10.

California clergyman starts new congregation for GLBT Catholics
A clergyman has started a new congregation for gay and lesbian parishioners who don’t feel welcome at traditional Masses.

The Rev. Paul Breton, a priest at St. Aelred’s Chapel until he left several years ago for health reasons, started holding his special Sunday Mass at a community center.

“We’re trying to offer a ministry of affirmation that honors personhood, lifestyle and the choices you make as a child of God,” he said.

Priests from a variety of Catholic traditions will travel to San Bernardino to preside over Mass on Sunday afternoons.

Bob Watson, 70, who attended a recent service, said his participation “carries on a tradition of my family and the beliefs I was raised in.”

Episcopal Diocese of California picks straight bishop over 3 gay choices
The Episcopal Diocese of California averted another churchwide showdown over the role of gays in their denomination when delegates rejec ted three openly gay candidates for bishop.

The diocese chose the Rev. Mark Handley Andrus of Birmingham, Ala. None of the gay candidates received more than a handful of votes.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, May 12, 2006.

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