Public input sought on non-discrimination amendment effort

Fairness Works Houston, a new organization formed to pass a proposed non-discrimination charter amendment in Houston, will hold a public meeting this Saturday, Feb. 25, to seek public input. As previously reported by Houstini, the proposed charter amendment, which is still being drafted, will remove discriminatory language added to the city charter in 1985 and 2001 and make it a crime to deny employment, housing or public accommodation to a person because of their “age, race, color, creed, religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, marital status, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or physical characteristic.”

The meeting, scheduled for 1 pm at the GLBT Cultural Center (401 Branard) in rooms 112/113, looks to identify community resources that can be used both topass the amendment and to gather the 20,000 signatures that will be needed to place the amendment on the November ballot. Scheduled speakers include Noel Freeman, president of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus and Jenifer Rene Poole who chairs the Caucus’ committee on the proposed amendment.

—  admin

What’s Shakin – Houston Pride Band’s Guilty Pleasures, Haute Boys of fall

Artistic Director Skip Martin

Pride Band Artistic Director Skip Martin

1. The Houston Pride Band presents “Guilty Pleasures,” a concert featuring the favorite guilty pleasures of the Pride Band members, tonight at 7:30 at the Hobby Center.  The concert marks the premier of the Pride Band’s new artistic Director, Skip Martin.  Martin chose the feature favorite’s from the bands 30-year history. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased from the Hobby Center.
2. The “Haute Boys of Fall II” gather at James Craig Furniture (4500 Washington Avenue), since their founding in 2010 the Haute Boys (which includes quite a few girls) have raised over $15,000 for area AIDS charities.  Tonight’s event features complimentary signature cocktails by Harmonie, an array of neighborhood bites, elements of design and fashion, music and more. Admission is an unwrapped toy, gift card or $20 donation for Houstonians in need.
3.  Voter turnout held steady for the ninth day of early voting in Harris County.  So far 34,329 people have voted, only 80% of the 42,968 who had voted by this point during the 2009 municipal elections.  Montrose’s own Multi Service Center on West Gray broke 400 voters for the first time since voting began on Oct 24. Early voting continues through November 4.  Election day is Nov 8. A list of all early voting locations and sample ballots  are available at harrisvotes.org.

—  admin

Son of a beach

A family vacation proves unexpectedly gay as Myrtle Beach, S.C., gets Pride

RAINBOW TOUR | Nearly 200 beachcombers — including the author (dark green, just right of center) — stepped away from the surf and gathered in a field to form a human rainbow flag.

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

The trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., had more to do with a family reunion than finding a good destination for gay travelers. After all, Myrtle Beach is a pretty lazy, conservative town in the perennial Red State, one where teenaged spring breakers and families gather to enjoy the warm surf and the resort-town appeal of seafood and beachcombing and overpriced cocktails. Queer travelers can hit one of the three gay bars, all within blocks of each other — Club Traxx, Time Out! and the Rainbow House (a lesbian club).

But the weekend I arrived , just by coincidence, it turned out to be Gay Pride.

Keep in mind, the gay community in Myrtle Beach is small, so “Gay Days,” plural, felt more like Gay Day, singular: One major event and then life as usual in Coastal Carolina.

The major event, though, was an ambitious one: Gathering members of the LGBT community and their allies to form a “human rainbow flag:” People signed up to wear a pastel-colored T-shirt and arrange themselves in the traditional configuration. A few others wore black, forming the flagpole.

The entire event was threatened by showers late Friday and early Saturday, but despite a slightly muddy field, nearly 200 people turned out, huddled closely on a muggy afternoon, while a photographer flew above in a helicopter.

Numbers weren’t uniform; there were too many reds and too few purples; but the effect was one of a flag waving in the breeze.

In order to do the shoot, members faced each other before bending forward to allow the broad field of their shirts to form the colors. Directly across from me stood Elke Kennedy, a resident of Greenville in the Upstate. Elke and her husband established SeansLastWish.org, raising awareness of anti-gay violence, after their gay son was beaten to death and his killer spent less than a year in jail.

Elke spoke at a rally following the photoshoot, and dozens in attendance listened to her recount her  son’s harrowing attack and death before two drag queens performed and a DJ spun dance hits. People started to file out after a while, off to the beach, or the clubs, or even the boardwalk, where the Texas Star-like Skywheel gives great views of the beach … and sits next door to the campily named souvenir shop the Gay Dolphin.

The latter was always may favorite place when I was growing up; you’d think my parents would have caught on sooner.

Click here for additional photos.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Hundreds Gather to Push for Marriage in Maryland

Equality Maryland Exec. Director Morgan Meneses-Sheets and Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler

Over 400 supporters of marriage equality from across Maryland came to Annapolis on Valentine’s Day to lobby in support of the “Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act.” 

As a Maryland resident it was especially moving to see so many supportive legislators bear the strong winds and address the enthusiastic crowd. 

Attorney General Doug Gansler was also on-hand and was greeted with cheers as he predicted a legislative victory.

The full Senate is expected to vote next week.  With two Senators announcing their support for the bill earlier in the day, the bill has 23 of the 24 votes needed to pass.  Four Senators remain undecided.

If the bill passes the Senate next week, it moves onto the House of Delegates where the vote count is also very close.

To help in our efforts working alongside Equality Maryland, please contact sultan.shakir@hrc.org.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  David Taffet

Hundreds Gather in NY to Remember Slain Ugandan Activist David Kato

 

The following comes from HRC Greater New York Steering Committee Diversity Co-Chair Pete Webb:

I represented the Human Rights Campaign yesterday at the New York City Memorial Service to honor the Ugandan LGBT Activist, David Kato.  Kato was the advocacy officer of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG).  Only a few short months after his picture was published in a national magazine outing LGBT Ugandans under the headline “hang them,” someone broke into Kato’s house on January 26, 2011 and beat him to death with a hammer.  Right-wing U.S. extremists have fueld a climate of hatred in Uganda.  Click here to learn more and send a message to the most outspoken extremists whose words may have led to Kato’s death.  

A moving memorial service, alive with soul and spirit, was held for Kato in the historic setting of Abyssinian Baptist Church.  Over 225 people attended to mourn David’s murder and show their solidarity with LGBT Ugandans.  Various dignitaries participated in the service including a UN Senior Adviser to the High Commissioner, New York City Councilmember, and clergy from various faith communities. Frank Mugisha, Executive Director of SMUG, also shared his testimony and friendship with David Kato.

The Rev. Joseph Tolton, who was the lead organizer of the vigil, talked about racism, homophobia, hatred and bigotry within society and the church. He passionately extolled everyone to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your god.” He challenged the church to welcome all of god’s children including the LGBT community. The Rev. Calvin Butts of Abyssinian Baptist Church continued this theme declaring that we must open our hearts and minds to erase hate and affirm human dignity.

It is my hope and prayer that David Kato’s legacy will birth a movement of understanding; empowerment and liberation.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  David Taffet

ATLANTA: Pastors To Gather To Pray For Bishop Eddie “Down Low” Long

Atlanta’s pastors are getting together for a “lock down” prayer vigil where they will ask Jeebus to watch over disgraced Bishop Eddie “Down Low” Long, his 22-room/nine bathroom mansion, and his 0K Bentley. Glory! Praise Hi$ Name! And send in another teenage hottie!

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright

SACRAMENTO: Thousands Of Bigots Gather To Pray Against Gay Rights

Dominionist, extremist, Christofascist preacher Lou Engle gathered several thousand bigots in California’s capital today to pray against same-sex marriage and for “authority over Jezebel and San Francisco values.”

The Sacramento event, Engle said, helped to highlight immoral laws being passed out of the Capitol and called on traditional marriage to be restored. “If marriage is going to be upheld between a man and a woman, which we believe is the best for families and children and society, then right now, it seems we need divine intervention,” Engle said in an interview between appearances on stage. “That’s part of the reason we’re coming here, to pray, but also to take a stand and be a prophetic voice to stand for truth.”

The above-linked story notes that “offering stations” were set up throughout the audience. Jackpot. Another Lexus for Lou Engle, who, should you have forgotten, is one of the American evangelists responsible for Uganda’s “kill gays” bill.

Joe. My. God.

—  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