What’s Brewing: Debating discrimination in Montana, West Virginia and the United Kingdom

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A Montana House committee approved a bill Monday that would ban cities from enacting ordinances to protect LGBT people from discrimination. The bill, which cleared the committee by a 13-7 vote, would overturn existing LGBT protections in Bozeman and Missoula. The same House committee also blocked a proposal to ban anti-LGBT discrimination statewide, after a 14-6 vote against the measure. But really, what else would you expect in a state where the GOP platform calls for criminalizing gay sex and where tea party leaders like to joke about Matthew Shepard’s murder?

2. A gay coal miner who filed a discrimination lawsuit against his former employer is leading the push for statewide LGBT protections in West Virginia. Sam Hall, who filed a lawsuit against Massey Energy Co. last year, spoke at a rally Monday at the Capitol in support of anti-discrimination bills, as onlookers chanted, “stand with Sam.” Watch video of the rally above.

3. Across the pond, the United Kingdom’s Equality and Human Rights Commission is investigating whether gay-only hotels violate anti-discrimination laws. The EHRC, which recently found a Christian-owned hotel guilty of violating the laws for refusing to rent a room to a same-sex couple, says it must establish an “objective balance.” Owners of gay-only hotels fear that if they’re forced to rent to heterosexual couples, it could put them out of business.

—  John Wright

Gay pilots group offers scholarships to aspiring professional pilots

From Staff Reports editor@dallasvoice.com

Officials with the National Gay Pilots Association Education Fund have announced plans to award $15,000 in scholarships in 2011 to aviators pursuing careers as professional pilots.

Applications can be submitted between Jan. 1 and March 21, with more information and applications available online at NGPA.org.

Scholarship awards, typically ranging from $3,000 to $4,000, will be announced sometime in June.Thomas Little, NGPA Education Fund chairman, said the scholarships are part of the organization’s ongoing commitment to support the community and foster opportunities for aspiring aviators.

“Our mission takes on heightened importance during these challenging economic times, as students struggle with the rising costs of flight training and higher education,” Little said.

The NGPA Education Fund has given out 41 awards totaling $117,000 since the program began in 1998. The organization awarded four scholarships of $3,750 each in 2010.

Factors considered in the award of scholarships include demonstrated academic ability, financial need and active participation in matters of social justice toward the betterment of the LGBT community. Scholarships will be awarded without regard to race, sex, national origin, sexual orientation or other group categories protected by non-discrimination laws.

Applicants must hold a private pilot license and be enrolled in an accredited flight school or in a university course of study with a flight program. Payments are made directly to the school and must be applied toward an advanced rating or tuition.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 3, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas