Massachusetts hate group angry at teachers who shared coming out experiences

crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters

From that “bastion of Christian fairness,” the American Family Association's One News Now, comes this item:

A pro-family group is outraged that a high school in Massachusetts allowed an event on campus at which seven teachers spoke about how they “came out” as homosexuals.

Brian Camenker, president of MassResistance!, tells OneNewsNow a concerned mother first alerted his group of the panel discussion that took place at Concord-Carlisle High School in late October during which seven teachers shared their “coming out” stories and encouraged the reported standing-only audience to do the same.

“They also said that if kids want to discuss their homosexual issues, that their parents will not be informed of anything — that it's completely private,” Camenker reports. “And this was one of the things that really bothered this mother, that…if kids are involved with a dangerous and deadly behavior, the school isn't even going to tell their parents that it's going on.”

The entire tone of the article, of which Camenker is the only source by the way, gives an impression of innocent students being “indoctrinated” by a supposed gay agenda.

Of course the truth of the panel discussion is slightly different than Camenker would have us to believe. From the Massachusetts publication The Carlisle Mosquito comes a more detailed version of the panel discussion:

Acknowledging recent national reports of the high-risk for suicide among gay teens, a panel of seven teachers agreed to come forward and talk about their personal experiences at a meeting held at the Concord-Carlisle high school (CCHS) on Friday, October 21. The gathering in the Little Theatre was standing room only. The event was hosted by Spectrum, the gay-straight alliance organization at the school.

Spectrum, with about 12 members of all sexual orientations, meets weekly at the high school on Wednesday afternoons. The teens discuss current events and questions about sexual orientation, gender identity and being an ally. The group was founded in 1992, as a response to Governor William Weld’s Safe Schools initiative aimed at helping lesbian, gay and bi-sexual teens. Spectrum has sponsored film viewings, health-week programs and special events – such as this panel discussion – at the high school. Adult sponsors of the group include guidance counselor Kelli Kirstein and social studies teacher Ben Kendall – well known for his humor and who identified himself at the meeting as “mostly straight.”
The seven speakers included special educator Amelie Atwater-Rhodes, science teacher Brian Miller, English teacher John Woodnal, English teacher Shelley Hull, health and fitness educator Nancy Slocum, physics teacher Kevin Pennucci and math teacher Peter Atlas. Kendall introduced the panel, and said that they were seated from youngest to oldest. He noted that the panel members had agreed to share their personal stories about coming out as gay or lesbian to emphasize that their lives improved as a result. He limited each participant to five minutes, but the speakers – encouraged by applause from the audience after each individual talk – continued on for much longer. The event stretched to an hour and a half before the gathering broke up for pizza.

 

The bottom line is whereas Camenker (and One News Now) tries to push the inane notion that homosexuality was “marketed” to students by teachers, the truth of the matter is that these teachers, alarmed about the recent suicides amongst lgbt youth, decided to not only come out but also share their personal stories as a way of telling lgbt youth that (forgive me for saying something that has become a cliche, albeit a positive one) that “it will get better.”
These teachers should be commended.
Camenker, on the other hand, should be looked at warily. And everything he says should be taken with the smallest grain of salt. You see, Camenker's group, Mass Resistance, is one of 14 official hate groups named so by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
According to the SPLC, these groups do not simply speak against homosexuality.
(They) have engaged in the crudest type of name-calling, describing homosexuals as “perverts” with “filthy habits” who seek to snatch the children of straight parents and “convert” them to gay sex. They have disseminated disparaging “facts” about gays that are simply untrue — assertions that are remarkably reminiscent of the way white intellectuals and scientists once wrote about the “bestial” black man and his supposedly threatening sexuality.

In the case of Camenker and Mass Resistance, this includes:

Manufacturing a phony panic about “schools teaching children about homosexuality,”

Claiming in 2005 on Comedy Central's Daily Show that if given time, he would be able to connect gay marriage in Massachusetts to the “reduction” of the quality of life in the state, a spike in homelessness rates, or and a lowering the quality of the air in the state, or

Making a claim in 2006 that “gays were trying to get legislation passed to allow sex with animals” in Massachusetts.

Continuing a vindictive campaign of misinformation against the transgendered community (whom the organization refers to as “men in dresses) .

Most recently, the organization was key in manufacturing inaccurate claims about Obama appointee Kevin Jennings in an attempt to get him dismissed. The watchdog site Media Matters published a list of the lies Camenker and Mass Resistance spread about Jennings.

In one post, Media Matters goes on to say:

  . . .conservative commentator Dean Barnett has stated that the organization “verges on being a hate group.” Camenker himself reportedly denied that gays and lesbians were targeted during the Holocaust and has compared the gay rights movement to the Nazis.

If I were a parent, I wouldn't have any problem with my child attending that panel discussion with the lgbt teachers. But I wouldn't let my child get anywhere near Camenker. I wouldn't want that hatred to rub off.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Cicilline becomes 4th gay member of Congress

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund is reporting that Providence Mayor David Cicilline has won his race for Congress in Rhode Island.

“Mayor Cicilline will be a strong advocate for all Rhode Islanders, but he will also be an authentic voice for the millions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans who long for the day when we will be treated equally under law,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund. “We are enormously proud of him and grateful to Rhode Island voters.”

Cicilline will join openly gay Reps. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Jared Polis of Colorado, all Democrats.

—  John Wright

Gay Congressman Barney Frank re-elected

Barney Frank

More good news from the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. Congressman Barney Frank, D-Mass., has been re-elected despite a strong challenge from Tea Party-backed Republican Sean Bielat.

“Barney Frank is nothing if not a fighter, and we’re very happy he will return to the House and continue to fight for the people of Massachusetts and for all LGBT Americans. Nobody has worked harder or longer in the U.S. Congress for fairness and equality for the LGBT community,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund.

Frank has served in the House since 1981 and came out as gay in 1987.

Again, to keep track of how gay candidates are faring across the country, go here.

—  John Wright

Video: Gays/Pilgrims? Well, both did find inaugural freedom in Massachusetts

In Iowa, Eric Cooper is the Libertarian party’s nominee for Governor. He also might just be the one candidate who understands civil marriage equality the most:



(NoisyEyeDoctor)

Can doesn’t mean should.

Personal whim need not translate into public policy.

Religious condemnation doesn’t trump civil freedom.

Rocks are worth seeing, be they sitting on terra firma in Plymouth or sitting on Tara Firma’s ring finger.

But if it’s all the same to you, we much prefer a luxury honeymoon cruise to the Mayflower. You know — scurvy and all.




Good As You

—  admin

BREAKING: Obama DOJ to appeal Massachusetts DOMA case

How about that fierce advocacy! Predictable, given how things have gone so far; this admin’s DOJ and this President (a constitutional scholar) are going to defend discrimination. From Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (email press release):

Department of Justice will Appeal GLAD’s Victory in DOMA Lawsuit

Today, the Department of Justice filed a notice of appeal in the case of Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, the challenge brought by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) to Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Representing seven married same-sex couples and three widowers, GLAD filed Gill in March 2009. The case was heard in May 2010 by U.S. District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro, who issued a decision finding DOMA Section 3 unconstitutional on July 8, 2010.

“We fully expected an appeal and are more than ready to meet it head on,” said Mary L. Bonauto, GLAD’s Civil Rights Project Director. “DOMA brings harm to families like our plaintiffs every day, denying married couples and their children basic protections like health insurance, pensions, and Social Security benefits. We are confident in the strength of our case.”

The case is now before the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. The next step will be for the government to file its brief to that court arguing that Judge Tauro’s ruling was wrong. GLAD will then file its brief in opposition to the government, and finally the government will file a reply brief. At that point, the appeal will be scheduled for oral argument. Briefing could be concluded by the spring of 2011 with oral argument to follow by the fall of 2011.

The government also today filed its notice of appeal in the related case Commonwealth of Massachusetts vs. Department of Health and Human Services.

Co-counsel in the Gill case are attorneys from the firms Foley Hoag LLP, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Jenner & Block LLP, and Kator, Parks & Weiser, PLLC.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

What does Ken Mehlman have to say about his former boss, anti-gay Texas Rep. Lamar Smith?

Congressman Lamar Smith, R-Texas

If we could ask Ken Mehlman only one question, it might just be something about his one-time boss Lamar Smith.

Mehlman, the formerly anti-gay former RNC chair who recently came out as gay, served as Smith’s legislative director in the 1990s. Smith, meanwhile, seems to be vying for the title of No. 1 homophobe in Congress.

• In August, Smith sponsored a resolution to condemn U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

• Also in August, Smith announced plans to introduce federal legislation that would define marriage as between one man and one woman.

• And now, Smith is asking a federal court to allow him to intervene in a case to help defend the Defense of Marriage Act, according to Keen News Service. The Alliance Defense Fund announced Tuesday it had filed motions on behalf of Smith asking to intervene in two cases in which a U.S. district judge in Massachusetts declared DOMA unconstitutional. The ADF argues on behalf of Smith that the Obama administration isn’t doing enough to defend the 1996 law, which some gay-rights activists don’t think the administration should be defending at all.

Interestingly, Smith’s Democratic opponent in November, Lainey Melnick, touts her opposition to DOMA prominently in the issues section of her website:

“It will be up to the [Supreme Court] to decide if the Defense of Marriage Act violates the Constitution by forcing the states to discriminate against same-sex couples,” Melnick writes. “This decision could uphold that federal encroachment over the areas where states have sovereign jurisdiction, such as with marriage, is unconstitutional and leaves marriage in the hands of the states. This question is to be answered by the courts, not the Congress. But I do believe that the US Constitution provides equal rights for all people, including same sex couples who want to get married, who want to own property, who want to make medical decisions, who want to share insurance expenses, who want to immigrate, who want to work, who want to serve in our military, and who deserve to live their lives free of discrimination.”

Unfortunately, Smith represents a pretty safe Republican district in Central Texas, and Melnick is facing some long odds. But who knows, maybe Smith’s one-time legislative director, Ken Mehlman, has something to tell us about him.

—  John Wright

MASSACHUSETTS: Catholic High Schoolers Rally In Support Of Lesbian Dean

Students at Cathedral High School in Springfield, Massachusetts took to the streets this weekend to express their disgust over the forced resignation of their dean, Christine Judd, who was asked to leave the school after 12 years because she had married a woman over the summer break.

“Without being specific to this matter, it should be clear that all employees of our Catholic schools are made aware of our policies and regulations,” said diocesan spokesman Mark E. Dupont. “This includes language that clearly states that whenever by public example, an employee engages in or espouses conduct which contravenes the doctrine and teaching of the Catholic Church, that employee may be subject to disciplinary action. To do otherwise would be in contradiction to the values we believe in and are teaching in these same schools,” he said.

Watch this clip of these great kids. It’ll give you hope.

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright

School official loses job after marrying partner

Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — A top administrator at a Springfield Catholic school says she was forced out of her job after marrying her female partner last month.

Christine Judd, who served as dean of students and athletic director at Cathedral High School, tells The Republican newspaper that she met with school officials on Wednesday, Sept. 1 and was given the choice of resigning or getting fired.

Judd said she was “hurt,” and is exploring her legal options. Although gay marriage is legal in Massachusetts, it is against church policy.

Judd worked at the school for 12 years, beginning as a science teacher in 1998. She became dean of students six years ago and athletic director three years ago.

A spokesman for the Springfield Diocese said Judd resigned, but would not discuss the reasons for her resignation.

—  John Wright

20-Foot Basking Shark Washes Up on Massachusetts Beach

Basking

A 20-foot Basking shark beached itself at Plymouth, Massachusetts yesterday:

"Shark expert Dr. Greg Skomal plans to meet with Plymouth town officials to decide how to remove the shark, which remained on shore this morning as the tide changed, said state Division of Marine Fisheries spokeswoman Catherine Williams.

Scientists will perform 'a necropsy, or animal autopsy on the fish, to take samples to learn what they can from it,' said Williams."

You may recall that one of these sharks washed ashore last summer near Babylon, New York.

The harmless sharks, which scoop up plankton, are quite amazing creatures. Check out a video of them underwater here.
 

A news report on the Massachusetts shark, AFTER THE JUMP


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

DOMA and Massachusetts Officially Divorce

ARI EZRA WALDMAN

As some of you might remember, as as reported here, a federal district judge in Massachusetts ruled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional under the 10th Amendment, which protects the prerogatives of the States, and the 5th Amendment, which ensures equal protection.  Judge Joseph Tauro's opinions are available here and here.

No, I'm not bothering you with old (but still good) news.  Lost in a frenetic day dominated by the Left Coast was that "back east", Judge Tauro entered final judgment in both cases, captions Gill v. Office of Personnel Management and Massachusetts v. Department of Health and Human Services.  Final judgment is a little archane:  It is the written determination of a lawsuit by the judge who presided at
trial, which makes rulings on all issues and completes
the case.  It's like hitting the "Send" button on your email.  The moment you send it, the email is out there and you can bet someone is going to read it.  But, only after those few seconds when you can still hit "Unsend" or "Recall" is the email officially (and in some cases, unfortunately) out there.  Though it is a little more complicated than that, you get the idea.

This case was not appealed to the First Circuit, the appellate court sitting in New England.  This means that, as to Massachusetts, certain parts of DOMA, and its enshrined discrimination against same-sex couples, are officially unconstitutional.  No delays, no stays, no injunctions.  Just equality.

Thanks to loyal reader, Jason C., for making sure I'm on the ball.  And, to any Eli's out there, excuse the Cambridge-centered post.


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright