National Briefs

Posted on 17 Jan 2008 at 7:52pm
By Staff and Wire Reports

Lesbian deacon to move ahead with ordination bid in Presbyterian church

RICHMOND, Calif. A Presbyterian deacon who has twice been denied ordination because of her sexual orientation can move forward with her bid to join the clergy.

The regional body of the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted 167-151 Tuesday night, Jan. 15, in support of Lisa Larges’ application, despite the denomination’s long-standing ban on openly gay ministers. Larges, 44, still must submit to an interview with the regional body as soon as April, church officials said.

Larges said after the vote that she was proud of the church members’ decision, despite the heavy opposition.

“The church is a beautiful, messy thing,” she said. “It’s about loving the church in spite of the church. It’s about being part of a movement to call the church back to its best self.”

The constitution of the church says only members in traditional man-woman marriages or who are sexually abstinent may serve as clergy, elders and deacons. Larges has submitted a statement to the Presbytery of San Francisco declaring her disagreement with that policy, calling it a “mar upon the church and a stumbling block to its mission.”

Those who oppose Larges’ application said they would appeal Tuesday’s decision through the church court.

Record number of LGBT people elected to committees by DNC executive committee

DENVER The Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has unanimously elected DNC Chairman Howard Dean’s nominations for the chairs and members of the 2008 Democratic National Convention Standing Committees, including a record number of openly LGBT members, according to a state released Wednesday, Jan. 16, by the DNC.

Dean’s LGBT appointments include Dr. Marjorie Hill of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis organization in New York, Diego Sanchez from AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, State Rep. Patricia Todd of Alabama and Ingrid Duran of Virginia to serve on the Platform Committee, along with Claire Lucas and Evan Low of California to the Rules Committee and Bob Rogan of Vermont to the Credentials Committee.

Dean was also the first DNC chair to appoint a member of the transgender community to a Convention committee.

The Standing Committees of the convention are responsible for reviewing convention business and formulating recommendations for consideration by convention delegates. The executive committee’s vote took place during the panel’s recent meeting in Denver, site of the four-day convention in August.

Kentucky House committee approves bill banning anti-gay bullying in schools

FRANKFORT, Ky. The Kentucky House Education Committee had unanimously approved an anti-bullying bill for schools.

It would require school districts to design policies to deal with bullies, but critics say that could lead to the teaching of homosexuality.

Senate President David Williams a Republican from Burkesville said he hasn’t read it, but said there’s concern about whether the bill could be in his words “an excuse for the addition of curriculum dealing with aberrant behavior.”

Jordan Palmer of the gay rights group Kentucky Equality Federation says Williams is homophobic and says the bill would only promote tolerance of other viewpoints.

Howard Brown Health Center conducting online survey of LGBT parents

CHICAGO Howard Brown University Health Center’s Department of Research has launched an online survey targeted to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender parents.

“By conservative estimates, more than 500,000 LGBT adults have children,” said Blase Masini, Ph.D., Howard Brown’s director of research and the study’s principal investigator, “yet little is known about the development of children in LGBT homes. This study will give some insight into the family and peer relations of children raised by LGBT parents.”

Responses to the survey are completely anonymous, and it takes about 30 minutes to complete. At the end of the survey there is the option for participants to include their email address to be entered in a drawing for a $50 gift card.

To access the survey, please go to www.howardbrown.org and click on the link on the home page under the “Surveys” heading.

For more information about Howard Brown visit www.howardbrown.org.

Law student who sued over gay marriage question on bar exam apologizes

BOSTON A man who filed a lawsuit claiming he failed the Massachusetts bar exam because he refused to answer a “morally repugnant” question about same-sex marriage says he has since changed his views on gay rights.

“After speaking with numerous members of the gay community, including my own friends, I began to empathize with their denial of basic human rights and how they feel discriminated against,” Stephen Dunne said Jan. 10 in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

Dunne, an Irish immigrant who first came to the United States in 1998, said the change also was prompted in part by racism the Irish once faced in the U.S., his six-year stint in the Army and the war in Iraq.

“Members of the gay community are in combat and dying for their country and yet they’re being denied the basic human rights they are fighting for,” he said.

Dunne first apologized for being an “instrument of bigotry and prejudice” in an e-mail published in the Jan. 3 edition of Bay Windows, a weekly Boston newspaper aimed at the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

Gay rights ally in Maryland Senate, Gwen Britt, dies suddenly at age 66

BALTIMORE State Sen. Gwendolyn T. Britt, a Democrat from Prince George’s County who had served in the Senate since 2003 and who was known as a staunch ally of the LGBT community, has died. She was 66.

Britt died early Saturday morning, Jan. 12, apparently from heart failure or stroke, while being admitted to Doctor’s Community Hospital in Lanham, her husband, Travis Britt, told The Washington Post.

“Today, Maryland lost one of its brightest civil rights leaders,” Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown said in a statement. “Senator Gwen Britt was a principled, active and fair-minded voice for equality.”

Said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller: “Her dedication to public service, leadership on issues such as education, health care, and civil rights was unmatched, and her reputation as a consensus-builder will be greatly missed.”

Britt was a lead Senate sponsor on a bill that granted voting rights to ex-felons and was expected this year to sponsor a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage.

Delegate Jolene Ivey, a Prince George’s Democrat, said Britt’s commitment to gay marriage showed she wasn’t afraid to take on tough issues.

Utah trans woman who spoke in favor of transgender rights bill is fired

SALT LAKE CITY A woman who said she suffered discrimination at work because she is transgender has been fired as a nursing assistant.

Ariana Losco, a man before a sex-change operation in 1994, was quoted in a recent Associated Press story about a Utah lawmaker’s effort to ban discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Losco said her transgender status led to verbal abuse and fewer work hours at Rocky Mountain Care, a nursing home in Tooele.

“I spoke out about my treatment and got fired because of it,” she said Jan. 11. “Management is the one who should be embarrassed.”

Personnel manager Don Huntley denied Losco’s accusation that her sexual identity is the reason her hours were cut while she worked there. He said she was fired Jan. 10 because she had disparaged the company, although Rocky Mountain Care was not named in the AP story.

Will Carlson, policy director for the gay-rights group Equality Utah, said Losco’s firing demonstrates a need for Rep. Christine Johnson’s bill to become law.

“It is illustrative of the kind of thing people are going through,” Carlson said.

“We had a call this morning from a gay man who had been fired basically because he’s gay. … People are coming out of the woodwork to tell their stories,” he said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 18, 2008

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