Report from today’s NYU Law’s panel: ‘Are Conservatives the Most Effective LGBT Advocates?’

Scott Blair, an AMERICAblog reader and NYU Law student, last wrote to us from Miami, where he was attending Lavender Law, the National LGBT Bar Association Annual Meeting. Today, he attened a panel at NYU’s Law School titled, “The Log Cabin Republicans’ Victory Against ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’: Are Conservatives the Most Effective LGBT Advocates?” The event was held in collaboration with NYU OutLaw. They had quite a panel. Here’s Scott’s report:

Today, NYU Law had a panel on DADT, Log Cabin Republicans v. The United States, and the state of the repeal of DADT after the Republican-led filibuster. Speaking at the panel were Richard Socarides, Bill Clinton’s LGBT advisor, R. Clarke Cooper, the Executive Director of the Log Cabin Republicans, and Aaron Tax, the Legal Director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). The panel was moderated by Kenji Yoshino, a professor of Constitutional Law at the NYU School of Law.

Oddly, the panel didn’t focus so much on the legal strategy and prospects at the 9th Circuit and Supreme court of Log Cabin Republicans, but rather on how we ended up with no legislative repeal in site. The panel began with a discussion from Richard about how we ended up with DADT, and putting the failure of Clinton’s plan to let gays and lesbians serve openly in historic perspective. Even into George H.W. bush’s presidency, being gay was a possible security risk; no major countries let gays and lesbians serve openly; and the Democratic Chair of the Armed Services Committee, along with Colin Powell, came out forcefully opposed to the repeal, hosting a meeting of the Armed Services Committee in a submarine’s quarters to illustrate how gays would have to share bunk beds with straights. The media remained stuck on the issue, and Clinton, seeking a victory, worked with Barney Frank and others to come up with “Don’t’ Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue.”

There was an interesting remark from Richard about Clinton’s claim a few months back that he was told by Powell that DADT would let gay servicemen attend pride parades, live with a partner, etc. so long as they weren’t out at work. Quoting Richard, “That’s an example of all of us remembering what we want to remember. There’s a lot more to it.” As Kenji pointed out, immediately after DADT was passed, expulsions of gay and lesbians skyrocketed.

The panel then turned to Aaron discussing the law’s consequences, the extent of which may be unknown to even many proponents of repeal. Among SLDN’s clients have been a soldier who told his father he was gay, who then reported it to the military to get him discharged; people who told friends or family members they were gay before joining the military, and have it reach an enemy in the chain of command. Among the absurdities: a man who was threatened with discharge because he had a photograph with his arm around another man in his locker. The military stopped pursuing his discharge when he informed them it was a family photo with his cousin.

Clarke Cooper then talked about his experience on the case, which actually began
back in 2004, and then it moved onto his view of the Log Cabin Republicans. Given the fact that every single Republican filibustered the Defense Authorization bill which said that DADT would be repealed if the Joint Chiefs and the President sign on, there was a bit of flack from the audience about why they were pushing for more Republicans in Congress given their uniform opposition to gay rights. Cooper claimed that there were Republicans onboard for pushing for repeal, but Harry Reid’s procedural shenanigans made them all fall in line with the party and if it’s voted on after the elections it would get Republican support.

(I will say he isn’t the only person to make this claim. Servicemembers United made a similar claim in the period immediately before and after the failed vote.)

More interesting was the claim that when the Log Cabins lobbied for DADT’s repeal, they were often told by Republican Congressmen that they were the first people to visit and actually lobby for the repeal. I suspect this isn’t true, given what I know of SLDN, but it was worth mentioning. He was honest that the Republicans are less gay-friendly than the Democrats (to put it mildly), but I am sympathetic by the idea that if no one is pushing for gay rights in the GOP, then they will never change. I’d be more sympathetic if even “pro-gay” Republicans like Snowe and Brown didn’t vote against gay rights, but take it for what it’s worth. And more compelling is that the RNC has asked the Log Cabins to run campaign ads for GOP candidates in New York state, and that, compared to in the early 1990s, people are actively seeking their endorsements. And Cooper certainly had a point when he said whether you like it or not, the Democrats will not pass any legislation without some GOP support.

Ultimately, though, everyone at the panel was convinced that the Log Cabin Republicans’ victory has helped to keep the prospect of repeal alive. The sky hasn’t fallen since the repeal was issued, and despite the Pentagon’s claims, repeal won’t entail a host of new regulations and a new problem for the school. As Aaron Tax said, “all the repeal will do is not fire people for being gay.”




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

DOJ appeals injunction halting DADT

Advocates warn LGBT servicemembers not to come out until questions are settled

From Staff and Wire Reports

The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday, Oct. 14 asked a federal district judge to allow the military to continue enforcing “don’t ask, don’t tell” pending the government’s appeal of her ruling declaring the policy unconstitutional.

The request came two days after U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips issued an injunction Tuesday, Oct. 12 ordering the Department of Defense to halt enforcement of DADT worldwide.

The DOJ, which is defending the 17-year-old ban on open service, on Thursday asked Phillips to stay the injunction pending its appeal of her September ruling.

“As the President has stated previously, the Administration does not support the DADT statute as a matter of policy and strongly supports its repeal,” the justice department told Phillips. “However, the Department of Justice has long followed the practice of defending federal statutes as long as reasonable arguments can be made in support of their constitutionality, even if the Administration disagrees with a particular statute as a policy matter, as it does here.”

If Phillips denies the request for a stay of the injunction, the DOJ can request an emergency stay from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which will hear any appeal.

The DOJ has 60 days from the time of Phillips’ injunction to appeal her ruling.
Representatives from Log Cabin Republicans, which brought the lawsuit, and other groups advocating for DADT repeal warned LGBT servicemembers against coming out in the wake of Tuesday’s injunction.

Christian Berle, deputy executive director for Log Cabin Republicans issued a statement Thursday afternoon saying his organization had “expected that the Obama administration would continue to pull out all the stops to defend ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’” But, Berle pledged, “Log Cabin Republicans will continue to advocate on behalf of the American servicemembers who everyday sacrifice in defense of our nation and our Constitution.  If this stay is granted, justice will be delayed, but it will not be denied.”

Berle said Log Cabin Republicans are urging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to “do what it takes” to repeal DADT when Congress reconvenes after the midterm elections in November.

“If Sen. Reid treats the minority party fairly, the votes will be there to end ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ once and for all,” Berle said.

Although the House of Representatives voted this summer to repeal the policy, as an amendment to a Department of Defense spending bill, the measure died in the Senate last month when supporters could not get enough votes to end a Republican filibuster.

Republicans launched their filibuster in protest after Reid added an amendment to the bill dealing with immigration and refused to allow Republicans to add amendments from the Senate floor.

Even though Phillips’ injunction barring enforcement of DADT remains in force, at least for the time being, David Guy-Gainer of Forest Hills, a board member for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said his group is urging closeted servicemembers to act with caution.

“If you look at it in terms of gay marriage in California, you remember that sliver of time [between the Supreme Court ruling overturning the state’s ban on gay marriage] and the passage of Proposition 8 [which amended the Constitution], there were couples who were legally married in California. And even after Prop 8 passed, those marriages held up. They are still legal,” Guy-Gainer said.

“There is a chance there could be a window like that created in this case,” he continued. “But it’s too risky. If you have a gay servicemember who stands up while this injunction is in force and tells his commander, ‘Hey, I’m gay,’ and then the injunction is lifted, well the commander isn’t going to just forget that.

“Despite the injunction, we can’t confirm that they have actually stopped discharges, so it’s just too risky to actually come out,” Guy-Gainer said.

Rob Schlein, president of Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas, criticized the White House for appealing the injunction.

“I am very happy that the judge followed through on her decision and issued the injunction. But I think it is very sad that our ‘fierce advocate,’ President Obama, has filed an appeal, which is contradictory to his claims that he wants the law repealed,” Schlein said.

Rich Hisey, a former M.P. in the U.S. Army who is also a member of Log Cabin Dallas, said he feels “really good, very pleased” about Phillips’ ruling in the case and her injunction against DADT, despite the appeal.

“I think this is a big victory for Log Cabin Republicans, and a big victory for the gay community as a whole,” Hisey said. “It’s been a long, long road. But we’re finally getting close to the end.”

Still, Hisey said, he, too, warns gay and lesbian servicemembers to be “very, very cautious right now.”

“I served three years in the Army, in the military police, back in the 1980s. That was a very different time, and I was closeted the whole time I was in the military. Things are different now, but I think if I were in the military now, I would stay in the closet for a while longer at least. I think everything is still up in the air, and it is still too risky to come out,” Hisey said.

Hisey also echoed Schlein’s frustration with Democrats’ failure to repeal DADT, despite their pledges to do so.

“Obama has not shown any leadership, and he still continues to push the DOJ to appeal this ruling,” Hisey said.

“My real frustration is with the Democrats in the Senate. We had a golden opportunity last month to repeal DADT, but Harry Reid played politics with it and added the Dream Act to the bill, even though he knew it wouldn’t pass. That really bothers me.”

Senior White House officials have said the president wants to end DADT, but believes the change should come through Congress and not through the courts.

Shortly after the appeal was filed Thursday, President Obama sent out a notice on Twitter, reiterating his opposition to DADT and renewing his pledge to end the policy.

“Anybody who wants to serve in our armed forces and make sacrifices on our behalf should be able to,” the president Tweeted. “DADT will end & it will end on my watch.”

The bill passed by the House calls for repeal of DADT, but only after the completion of a Pentagon study that includes a survey on how servicemembers and their family members feel about repealing the policy. That study is due Dec. 1.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 15, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

WATCH: Houston LGBT equality group plans protest near Asher Brown’s school

An LGBT equality group is organizing a protest and vigil on Tuesday afternoon near Hamilton Middle School, where gay 13-year-old Asher Brown was “bullied to death.”

According to the Facebook page, the event is being organized by the Foundation for Family and Marriage Equality, which is described on its own page as a “Houston social justice organization committed to equality for families headed by GLBTQ couples.”

From KTRK in Houston:

The demonstration is set to begin at 3pm across the street from Hamilton Middle School. That is the time that school lets out. Organizers of this event are calling it an anti-bully human rights demonstration and while it will highlight the case of Asher who was a student at Hamilton, the event will address the larger trend that we have seen across the country.

Sadly in September alone nine teens committed suicide across the U.S. because they say they were in some form or fashion bullied at school. Organizers and advocates say schools need programs in place and that states need to pass laws to protect kids like Asher and prevent further tragedy.

“Everybody was feeling really bad about this what has happened to Asher Brown and I think people were just kind of tired of it,” said rally organizer Barry Ouellette. “We wanted to get out and do something about it and make sure that action is taken.”

—  John Wright

Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld: ‘Where’s the fight, Mr. President?’

Kerry Eleveld, like Frank Rich, is awfully hard to excerpt well and do full justice to her writing. Here’s my attempt, but please do read her entire piece – the first page alone was worth quoting in its entirety:

Barack Obama was out on the stump in Madison, Wis., doing an admirable job of trying to recapture a little of that ol’ 2008 campaign magic. And guess what he was talking about: fighting.

“That election was not just about putting me in the White House. It was about building a movement for change that went beyond any one campaign or any one candidate. It was about remembering that in the United States of America, our destiny is not written for us –- it is written by us,” he told a raucous college-age crowd. “The power to shape our future lies in our hands –- but only if we’re willing to keep working for it and fighting for it and keep believing that change is possible.”

[W]hen Barack Obama took office, only one state legally recognized same-sex marriages. Now five do, including one in the Midwest and two that approved it through the legislature rather than the courts. In the past couple months, two very separate polls have found that a majority of the American people now support same-sex marriage.

One federal judge has ruled part of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, while another federal judge said the same of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, and yet a third federal judge ruled the discharge of a service member under the policy unconstitutional.

Poll after poll after poll finds that anywhere from 65% to 75% of the public believe gays and lesbians should be able to serve their country openly, including a solid majority of self-identified conservatives and Republicans.

A tidal wave of change is rolling through America, and yet this president and Democratic Congress accomplished only hate-crimes — a measure that had already passed both chambers of Congress once before but was nixed from its host legislation based on a veto threat from President George W. Bush.

Hate crimes.

Where’s the fight, Mr. President? Our kids are committing suicide because our government continues to tell them their lives are less valuable than those of their peers. That they cannot grow up and participate in our society like every other American. That they cannot share in the institution by which our society measures and values love. That they are too embarrassing to fight for our country in full view of their countrymen. That freedom apparently does not mean freedom for everyone.

Where’s the fight, Mr. President?




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Activist (and hottie) Travis Gasper to return to Dallas as development director for AIDS Interfaith

Travis Gasper

Travis Gasper, founding president of the current chapter of Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats and a Dallas Voice “Future Pioneer,” is returning to Dallas from Colorado to accept a position as director of development for AIDS Interfaith Network, he told Instant Tea in an e-mail Wednesday.

Gasper, a Colorado native, left Dallas last December to run a newly created nonprofit in Denver that engages business leaders as advocates for early childhood programs. Gasper says he’ll be moving back to Dallas in a few weeks.

“I just happened to find out about the position when I was in town last month, and it was great timing since I had gotten to know the organization last year when we were fighting the city’s HIV/AIDS budget cuts,” Gasper writes. “The experience of starting a new organization has been great, and we have great board members and funders, but I miss friends and family and Dallas in general.”


—  John Wright

GetEqual, LGBT advocates give Rep. George Miller, Nancy Pelosi agita over broken ENDA promises

It’s been a bit quiet on the direct action front and so I was wondering who/what GetEqual’s next targets would be. This time it comes in twos.

George Miller Protest Last Night

Last night there was an action, organized in conjunction with One Struggle One Fight and AFL-CIO’s Pride at Work (its LGBT group), where members staged a protest during the debate between Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the U.S. House Education and Labor committee, and his Republican opponent.

The debate at the Travis Credit Union Auditorium in Vacaville, CA was interrupted in an act of non-violent, civil disobedience demanding that Chairman Miller make good on his promise to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) before Congress recesses for the November, mid-term elections.

On March 18th, 2010, after GetEQUAL protested for the passage of ENDA in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) office, Chairman Miller was asked by the Washington Blade, the Washington, DC-based, LGBT newspaper, when he would move the legislation through his committee.  Chairman Miller replied to the question saying, “Right after healthcare”.  The ENDA legislation has still seen no movement in the U.S. House and healthcare reform passed Congress on March 22nd – nearly six months ago.  (GetEqual press release):

“The ability to obtain or maintain employment should have nothing to do with someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. They have nothing to do with one’s ability to complete any job’s objectives and under the law, that should be all employers are allowed to base hiring and firing of an employee on,” said Robert Moore, spokesman for One Struggle One Fight.

The protestors reminded Chairman Miller that his campaign slogan, “Keep moving America forward.protect workers” also includes LGBT workers.  During the 7-8 pm(PST) debate, the protestors silently walked to the front of the auditorium holding a sign that read:  ”Miller Markup Employment Non Discrimination Act Now”

“Chairman Miller stands for moving America forward and protecting workers.  As co-sponsor of the Employment Non Discrimination Act and Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, he has the power to get the bill marked-up and send it to the House floor,” said Dan Fotou, a California member of GetEQUAL and one of those participating in the protest.   “He promised the LGBT community he’d pass ENDA out of his committee, “right after healthcare”.  Well, healthcare passed nearly six months ago and we’re still waiting.  It’s time that ALL Americans were protected from the ugly reality of discrimination.  Chairman Miller, your conscience and integrity are needed on this issue.   Move the bill to markup and bring us one step closer to being fully-recognized, fully-protected American citizens.

In mid-July of this year, GetEQUAL released a timeline showing years of broken promises and excuses from elected officials that have led to the stalling of any federal protections being in place for LGBT workers.  The timeline is available atwww.getequal.org/endatimeline. To read the entire email titled, “Fight Back Against the Broken Promises”, go to: http://getequal.org/?p=449.

Today: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi targeted with shut-down of Market and Castro Street in her home district of San Francisco

GetEQUAL, One Struggle One Fight and Pride at Work Rally, To Close Down Market and Castro St. Targeting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA):  ”Pelosi:  When Jobs are Lost, the Market Stops

Today, GetEQUAL, a national, direct action lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization; One Struggle One Fight, an LGBT and allied civil disobedience organization; and Pride at Work, an officially-recognized, LGBT constituency group of the AFL-CIO, first rallied at Harvey Milk Plaza and then proceeded to shut-down Market and Castro Street in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home district of San Francisco. The act of non-violent, civil disobedience was the second protest this week targeting House Democratic Leaders to make good on their promise to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that would protect LGBT workers from discriminatory employment practices. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual employees can be fired from their jobs in 29 states, and transgender or gender-nonconforming employees can be fired in 38 states.

At 5:00 pm (PST) a group of LGBT and allied advocates gathered in the historic Harvey Milk Plaza to remind Speaker Pelosi that they are making good on her July 24, 2010, speech at Netroots Nation, telling progressive activists that she wanted to pass ENDA but asked them to “build the mass to make me do it.” At 5:30 pm (PST), after the rally, advocates marched from Harvey Milk Plaza to the corner of Market and Castro Street – in the heart of Speaker Pelosi’s San Francisco Congressional District – where they unfurled a banner across the street, blocking traffic, that read, “Pelosi: When Jobs are Lost, the Market Stops.”

“Why is the Speaker of the House, who hails from the gayest city in America, blocking legislation that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender workers from workplace discrimination? Every day we live without the passage of ENDA is another day Congress turns a blind eye to discrimination against the LGBT community,” said Gabriel Haaland, spokesperson for Pride at Work and city-wide elected DCCC Committee Member. “Most LGBT workers have no protections from workplace discrimination. ENDA would provide legal protection against discrimination nationally. Speaker Pelosi has repeatedly promised to schedule a vote on ENDA, but has yet to fulfill those promises. The time to pass ENDA is now. The overwhelming majority of Americans support it; the politicians promised it. No more broken promises. We demand that Speaker Pelosi stop blocking ENDA and schedule a vote, now.”

“We pay taxes, contribute to the economy, and create American-paid jobs that provide products and services world-wide. Yet we continue to be treated unequal and Speaker Pelosi has the power to bring us one step closer to being fully-protected American citizens – and workers,” said Dan Fotou, a California GetEQUAL supporter and participant in today’s rally. “As Speaker Pelosi and other members of Congress are out campaigning to keep their jobs, they should know we have every intent of continuing our campaign to keep our jobs, too. Speaker Pelosi has said that ‘our impatience is justified’ – but what isn’t justified is the unfulfilled promises she continues to make to the LGBT community. It’s time for Speaker Pelosi to do the right thing and schedule an immediate vote on ENDA.”

“GetEQUAL has promised that, as long as people’s lives and livelihoods are at stake, we will not stop standing up for those LGBT workers in dozens of states across this country without a voice, without any job security,” said Heather Cronk, managing director of GetEQUAL. “With the launch of our ‘ENDA Summer’ campaign, we told politicians that while they are back home campaigning to save their jobs, we intend on reminding them that their employment isn’t the only one on the line. Millions of LGBT workers punch a clock every single day unsure if today’s timecard could turn into tomorrow’s discriminatory pink slip. The time to pass ENDA is now.”

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

GetEQUAL, DADT Repeal Advocates to Rally Outside White House

Just got word of this, happening at 2pm today on the north side of the White House, near Lafayette Park:

Whitehouse "GetEQUAL, a direct action lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization will hold a rally outside the White House demanding that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder instruct the Department of Justice to not appeal a ruling late yesterday that the military’s discriminatory 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' law is unconstitutional.  The rally will also focus on urging Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Majority Leader of the United States Senate, to immediately bring up the Defense Authorization Act, which contains language that would start the process of repealing 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.'"

The rally is also sponsored by Iraq Veterans Against War and local DC advocates supporting DADT repeal.


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

The Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld receives Award for Excellence in LGBT Media at NLGJA

Kerry Eleveld, whose reporting and commentary at The Advocate are often linked to here at the Blend, received a well-deserved award from her peers. It’s always good to know that she’s in the White House Press Briefing room to show what it takes to get a straight — ahem — answer out of Robert Gibbs. (NLGJA):

Kerry Eleveld of The Advocate has been selected to be honored with the Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for Excellence in LGBT Media. Named for the late Newsweek journalist and founding editor of Out magazine, the award recognizes outstanding contributions of a journalist working in the LGBT media.

Of Eleveld’s work, judges said: “Eleveld needs to be commended for pushing for a D.C. bureau for The Advocate,” as well as “From her unique place inside the White House, she’s consistently making news and controlling the direction of news stories.”

Having an out reporter focusing on our issues in that briefing room has made a huge difference in how this administration and the rest of the journalists in the room perceive the community. It inevitably draws more attention and competition for the MSM to cover our issues better — and more accurately. And having spent some time around Kerry, she is never “off-duty.” The above photo was taken in Maine during a party; I don’t think she filed any stories from there.

One thing I’d like to mention Kerry has to walk a fine line; while she is recognized for her reporting with this award, she is equally well-known for her “View from Washington” column, her commentary on issues (including some of the stories she covers), where she is able to give more in-depth perspective. This dual role is actually a more beneficial and honest presentation to the community – the fantasy line of “journalistic objectivity” is crossed all the time by the MSM; why not just do the right thing and label reporting and commentary. What a concept.

Congratulations, Kerry. Don’t let the accolades go to your head – even though Gibbs is still scared of your raised hand in the briefing room. Joe has more, including video of Kerry sparring with Gibbs.

The other award winners are below the fold…

 

The 2010 NLGJA Excellence in Journalism Awards:

Journalist of the Year Award

Winner: Randy Gener, American Theatre magazine

Honorable mention: Carolyn Lochhead, San Francisco Chronicle

Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for Excellence in LGBT Media

Winner: Kerry Eleveld, The Advocate

Excellence in News Writing Award

Winner: Jen Colletta, Philadelphia Gay News, “Researchers: Gays Excluded from Clinical Trials”

Honorable mention: Phillip Zonkel, Press-Telegram, “Suffering in Silence”

Excellence in Feature Writing Award

Winner: Benoit Denizet-Lewis , The New York Times Magazine, “Coming Out in Middle School”

Honorable mention: Alfred P. Doblin, The Record, “Stonewall Started It”

Excellence in Opinion Writing Award

Winner: Maya Rupert , LA Watts Times, “I Believe in America ”

Honorable mention: LZ Granderson , CNN, “Gay Is Not the New Black”

Excellence in Network Television Award

Winner: Bud Bultman, Rose Arce, Dave Timko, Amanda Sealy, and Steve Keller, CNN, “Her Name Was Steven”

Honorable mention: Jacqueline Gares and Amber Hall, In the Life, “40th Anniversary of Stonewall”

Excellence in Radio Award

Winner: Jad Abumrad and Aaron Scott, Radiolab, “New Stu”

Honorable mention: Tim Curran, Aaron McQuade and Dave Gorab; Sirius XM OutQ News; “Stonewall 40 Minutes” series

Excellence in Online Journalism Award

Winner: Dave Singleton and Team, AARP.org, “The Stonewall Riots: 40 Years Later”

Honorable mention: Jessica Bennett, Kathy Jones, Margaret Keady, Jennifer Molina, Monica Parra and Carl Sullivan ; Newsweek.com; “From Stonewall to Mainstream”

Excellence in Photojournalism Award

Winner: Scott A. Drake, Philadelphia Gay News, “PDA With a Purpose”

Excellence in HIV/AIDS Coverage Award

Winner: Michel Martin and the staff of Tell Me More, Tell Me More/NPR

Honorable mention: Jennifer Morton, POZ, “How Stigma Kills”

Excellence in Student Journalism Award

Winner: Todd Cross , Syracuse University multimedia graduate student, “Transgender: The Path to One’s Identity”

Honorable mention: Laura Lofgren, Fusion magazine, “The Importance of Being Aaron”

Founded in 1990, NLGJA is the leading professional organization for LGBT journalists with 20 chapters nationwide, as well as members around the globe. This year, NLGJA celebrates two decades of advocating for fair and accurate reporting on LGBT issues

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

DC Marriage Equality Advocates Gather to Celebrate and Continue Progress

The following post comes from HRC Field Organizer Nick McCoy:

An air of excitement moved through the Equality Forum at the Human Rights Campaign last week.

A diverse crowd of forty, including couples, seasoned community advocates, and excited neophytes, gathered for a couples meet and greet hosted by HRC and the DC marriage collaborative. The cause, to galvanize support for a continuing marriage equality education initiative, is entrenched in a broader undertaking by the DC marriage collaborative and HRC, to make inroads, build relationships and overcome differences within the community.

As such, the evening was an opportunity for dialogue between the DC marriage collaborative, HRC and all coalition partners, and residents of the broader DC Metro area. Jasper Hendricks, the new director of the DC Civil Marriage Collaborative, was introduced to the guests who provided feedback about what they need in their own communities to make progress on equality and justice, with a focus on LGBT issues.

The first same-sex couple married in the District, Angelisa Young and Sinjoyla Townsend, lit up as they told the attendees of the encouraging message they received from neighbors, District employees and officials since exchanging their nuptials. The picture of marital bliss, the newlyweds, who married in the same room five months ago, expressed pride in their ability to finally enjoy the same rights and bear the same responsibilities as their fellow citizens.

The event was a rousing success and the DC marriage collaborative and HRC look forward to the next opportunity to engage the community with its mission.

Special thanks to the National Black Justice Coalition, Gay and Lesbian Alliance, Gertrude Stein Democratic Club and the DC Civil Marriage Collaborative.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

DART guts transgender policy

Closed-door session leads to proposal that could take protections from gay and lesbian employees and offer none to transgender employees

By John Wright | Online Editor wright@dallasvoice.com

LGBT advocates expressed outrage this week after learning that Dallas Area Rapid Transit had effectively gutted a months-old proposal to add transgender protections to the agency’s employment nondiscrimination policy.

Following a 30-minute closed-door session to discuss the new policy on Tuesday, June 15, DART’s Board of Directors hastily approved an amendment stating that the agency won’t discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity “except to the extent permitted by federal and/or Texas law.”

Because there are no state or federal employment protections for LGBT people, the amendment could allow DART to discriminate against workers based on both sexual orientation and gender identity.

LGBT legal experts said the amendment would not only nullify the addition to the policy of gender identity, but it would also rescind DART’s protections for sexual orientation, enacted in 1995.

Cece Cox, associate executive director at Resource Center Dallas, said she felt the LGBT community’s “trust has been shattered.”

“Without answers from DART, we are left to speculate that DART does not care about equity for LGBT people and even perhaps that this was deliberately sabotaged,” Cox said in a statement released Thursday. “We have not seen action like this since ExxonMobil rescinded employment protections at their merger in the most crass display of disregard for their LGBT employees in recent corporate history. A final vote has not taken place. DART has time to do the right thing. If it does not, DART should be prepared for outrage from the LGBTA community.”

The DART Board of Directors is scheduled to take a final vote on the new policy Tuesday, June 22. The proposal to add gender identity to the policy came about in response to allegations that the agency discriminated against a transgender bus driver.

RCD spokesman Rafael McDonnell said the nature of the LGBT community’s presence at next Tuesday’s meeting likely will depend on what happens in the meantime.

“The question is going to be, are they going to change the language?” McDonnell said Thursday. “Do they get that the language is bad? And if so, what are they doing about it? I think that will reflect the tone of what we do on Tuesday.”

By noon Thursday, DART officials gave no indication they planned to revisit the amendment, which was caught by Dallas Voice after the agency forwarded a draft of the policy to the newspaper on Wednesday afternoon.

In response to questions about the amendment, DART spokesman Morgan Lyons insisted that the agency’s intent is to add gender identity to the policy and become more inclusive.

But Lyons couldn’t explain the reason for the amendment, and he denied requests for an interview with the agency’s attorneys.

Ken Upton, a senior staff attorney at Lambda Legal in Dallas, said he felt the community had been “royally screwed” by DART.

“It’s exactly the opposite of what they promised they were doing,” Upton said. “After all the work that’s gone into this, if this is what comes out of it, then we got nothing. They can say that’s not what they intended, but that’s what it says.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 18, 2010.

—  Dallasvoice