Openly Lesbian Australian MP Who Once Opposed Gay Marriage Now Comes Out In Support Of It

Australian Finance Minister Penny Wong, Australia's very first openly gay cabinet member, has gotten much heat from the LGBT community for her opposition of gay marriage. Looks like Wong is now personally in full support of marriage equality:

Wong The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

Senator Wong has been criticised in the past for putting her role as a cabinet minster ahead of her personal views and declining to support gay marriage.

At the state conference, she said she knew what it was like to be the subject of prejudice.

''I have had the opportunity to advocate for equality at the highest levels of our party and within our party processes, as I do today,'' she said. ''And I will do so at the next national conference. Talking about change is not the same as delivering it.''

The motion means South Australia and Northern Territory Labor branches have both changed policy in recent weeks to support gay marriage.

Alex Greenwich of the Australian Marriage Equality points out the significance of her announcement: "Senator Wong's public support for reform will not only make a difference when the issue is debated at the Labor national conference – it also reinforces the message to the Australian public that gay Australians are united in our desire for full legal equality."


Towleroad News #gay

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Michigan: openly gay student defends teacher at school board meeting (video)

Ann Arbor student Graeme Taylor stood up at a school board meeting in support of his teacher, Jay McDowell, who had disciplined two students for making anti-gay remarks in class. McDowell, in turn was disciplined on October 20 for that action, which spurred 14-year-old Taylor to speak out publicly. Via Towleroad:

During his speech in support of his teacher, Taylor revealed his problems with bullying and a suicide attempt at the age of 9.


Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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Openly Gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson To Retire Over Death Threats

Saying he is tired of the incessant death threats rained down from God’s Gentle People™ , openly gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson is retiring.

“The fact is, the last seven years have taken their toll on me, my family and you,” Robinson wrote in a message posted on the diocese website. “Death threats, and the now-worldwide controversy surrounding your election of me as bishop have been a constant strain, not just on me, but on my beloved husband, Mark, who has faithfully stood with me every minute of the last seven years.” Robinson was openly gay when he was elected bishop in 2003, but it aroused such passions that he wore a bullet-proof vest to his consecration. His ordination as bishop — the first of an openly gay priest in any Christian denomination — so divided the church that its General Convention in 2006 called a moratorium on “any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church.”

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Thomas Roberts Interviews Openly Gay Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright

U.S. Could Get First Openly Gay Lieutenant Governor

Massachusetts State Senator Richard Tisei, the running mate for that state's Republican candidate Charlie Baker, could become the first openly gay lieutenant governor.

TiseiGOP Politics evaluates the Tisei and Baker: "The GOP ticket is led by Charlie Baker, a fiscal conservative who supports marriage equality, and State Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei, an openly gay candidate for lieutenant governor.  Not only is the GOP ticket in Massachusetts the most LGBT-friendly the Republican Party has ever fielded, but in this liberal bastion they’ve provided the Republican Governor’s Association (RGA) with a real pick-up opportunity."

Also, the Victory Fund has stated their support for the state senator: "Tisei has earned the respect of his colleagues and stands an excellent chance of becoming the party’s nominee for Lieutenant Governor if he can beat back the forces of intolerance on the extreme right wing of his party.  A group has emerged that’s urging Republican voters to reject Tisei because of his strong support for marriage equality, his support of teachers and because of his pro-choice stand."

Tisei himself noted that he has the potential to make history when speaking to the Martha's Vineyard Times last month: "People judge you on your performance," and not completely hiding his pride, added, "To tell you the truth, if I'm elected, I'll be the first gay office holder statewide, and the highest ranking in the country —unusual for a Republican."

You may remember that while Baker supports gay marriage, he and Tisei disagree on a Massachusetts transgender anti-discrimination bill.


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

Court Says Air Force Nurse May Serve Openly; Impact of the Witt Decision

Major Margaret Witt is positioned to be the first lesbian service member to serve openly and without fear of discharge under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) after a district court ruling last Friday provided for her reinstatement.  The district court judge, Judge Ronald B. Leighton, was directed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to determine whether the specific application of DADT to Major Witt significantly furthered the government’s interest in promoting military readiness, unit morale and cohesion.  Judge Leighton found that the application of DADT to Major Margaret Witt did not further these interests.

Instead, Judge Leighton found that Major Witt “was an exemplary officer” and “an effective leader, a caring mentor, a skilled clinician, and an integral member of an effective team.”  In fact, he found that “her loss within the squadron resulted in a diminution of the unit’s ability to carry out its mission” – which is counter to the very interests offered as justifications for DADT.

In the decision, Judge Leighton also discusses the military’s ability to be effective while embracing diversity.  He says:

“The men and women of the United States military have over the years demonstrated the ability to accept diverse peoples into their ranks and treat them with the respect necessary to accomplish the mission, whatever that mission might be.  That ability has persistently allowed the armed forces of the United States to be the most professional, dedicated and effective military in the world.”

He also points out that the military has proven this “during the integration of blacks, other minorities and women into the armed forces.”

This decision is the first time the “Witt standard” – which was created during earlier review of Major Witt’s case – has been applied by a district court.  Under the Witt standard, the military is required to demonstrate that each individual discharged under DADT has a negative impact on his/her unit because of his/her sexual orientation.  The Witt standard is only applicable in the Ninth Circuit, which includes Alaska, Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Montana and Idaho.  As noted on Friday by HRC President Joe Solmonese,   “had Major Witt been discharged in any other circuit in the country, she would not have had her day in court.”

Considering that the Justice Department declined to appeal the decision that led to the Witt standard, it is unlikely that it will contest Major Witt’s reinstatement.

Last week, legislative repeal of DADT was blocked when partisan, Republican obstructionism prevented the Senate from considering the National Defense Authorization bill, to which DADT repeal legislation is attached.

In addition, only two weeks ago, we saw a federal district court in the Ninth Circuit declare DADT unconstitutional.  Currently, that district court judge is determining if she will place a worldwide, military-wide injunction on the enforcement of DADT, a move the Justice Department fervently opposes.

DADT litigation will only increase while DADT remains on the books.  The Administration is wasting valuable resources defending the failed law.  After learning of the decision allowing for Major Witt’s reinstatement on Friday, Solmonese stated “it is time for Congress and the Administration to recognize that his failed law should be removed from the books once and for all.”


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

Join our live chat with House candidate Steve Pougnet, the openly gay married dad, at 2 PM ET

Open Left, Bilerico, Good As You, Pam’s House Blend and AMERICAblog are hosting a live chat with House candidate Steve Pougnet today at 2 PM Eastern. He’s the openly gay, married dad running against incumbent Mary Bono Mack in California’s 44th District. This race is considered one of the best chances for a Democrat to win a GOP-held seat. Steve’s the Mayor of Palm Springs. Last night, he sent a video inviting folks to the chat.

We’ll be chatting while the Senate is preparing for the filibuster vote on the Defense Authorization bill, which includes the DADT language. Bono Mack voted against the DADT amendment in May.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Asst. attorney general accused of cyber-stalking openly gay college student

The article starts off kind of tame, then boy oh boy does it pick up. Beyond weird. How the state attorney general can keep someone like this on staff…

Andrew Shirvell is an assistant attorney general who helped run Cox’s last re-election campaign. But on his own time, he’s the author of a blog he started last spring targeting Chris Armstrong, the openly gay president of the University of Michigan’s student assembly.

With 27 postings to date, Shivell’s blog is filled with language you’ll never hear him use in a court room, calling Armstrong “nazi like,” a recruiter for “the cult that is homosexuality,” and a proponent of a “racist, anti-Christian agenda.”

In other internet postings, Shirvell’s language has been even stronger: calling Armstrong “Satan’s representative on the Student Assembly,” even posting a photograph with a swastika attached to his face.

“How under any circumstance, regardless of whether or not you agree with somebody’s lifestyle, is something like that defensible,” asked Jones.

“Well, he is promoting a satanic lifestyle, and he is a fierce advocate for it,” said Shirvell.

“By being openly gay,” asked Jones.

“No,” said Shirvell. “By being somebody that’s there to promote special rights for homosexuals at the cost of heterosexual students.”

And get this from the AG:

Attorney General Mike Cox refused our repeated requests for an on-camera interview. Instead, issuing a two-line statement which reads, in part: “I don’t agree with Mr. Shirvell’s tactics, his judgment, or his word choice but nonetheless I recognize his non-work related blog is protected by our Constitution.”

Then, late tonight amidst growing scrutiny, Cox issued a second statement, saying, “…Mr. Shirvell’s immaturity and lack of judgment outside the office are clear.”

Try “creepy.” This doesn’t sound like some guy simply voicing his opinions on a blog. It sounds like someone obsessed. It’s creepy as hell. And really weird behavior for someone working for the state, in the attorney general’s office.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Openly gay Palm Springs mayor Steve Pougnet is ready to unseat anti-equality Mary Bono Mack

Kudos to Adam Bink for taking the discussion of the mid-terms in a different direction.

I have gotten somewhat tired of hearing the woes of Dems this cycle from folks reading Politico and assuming the majorities will all but evaporate. There’s an intentional ignorance in the traditional media to forget about open Senate seats ripe for pickup in New Hampshire, Missouri, Ohio and Kentucky, and competitive seats in North Carolina and elsewhere. For a variety of reasons, there hasn’t been as much attention on the House, where I’m focusing on CA-45, a district where Obama won and we have a candidate that can do the same.

CNN has a profile up about Steve Pougnet, the openly gay mayor of Palm Springs, CA who is running to take down Mary Bono Mack, the Republican incumbent. Steve, who I profiled earlier here, would be the first married, openly gay parent elected two Congress (he and his partner are raising twins, Julia and Beckham).

We met Steve while at Netroots Nation this year (above photo), and this is one seat that is winnable, and Steve is a well-known and much respected official. Bono Mack is severely underperforming for her district; she’s simply not doing the job and thinks no one is looking. Even worse, she’s painted as some sort of moderate Republican. Don’t be fooled. This is not moderate:

* She voted against repeal of DADT;

* She has not co-sponsored ENDA (or even say whether she will support it;

* She supported the 1999 Largent Amendment that would have banned same-sex adoption in the District of Columbia;

* She even voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

If you see our friends at GOProud and LCR endorsing her, it’s a fair question to ask why her anti-equality positions are acceptable in 2010. Meanwhile, take a look at Pougnet’s first ad:

And the pitch…

Chip in on ActBlue here.

You can also tweet a donation to the campaign:

@adamjbink Donate @StevePougnet via @ActBlue to help air his first TV ad: http://bit.ly/bF5Lhy #LGBT #gay

Pougnet for Congress.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

Dallas could elect 1st gay judge

Judicial candidates John Loza, Tonya Parker among 4 LGBTs running in local races in 2010

By John Wright | News Editor wright@dallasvoice.com
IN THE RUNNING | Dallas County District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons, clockwise from top left, County Judge Jim Foster, attorney Tonya Parker and former Councilman John Loza are LGBT candidates who plan to run in Dallas County elections in 2010. The filing period ends Jan. 4.

Dallas County has had its share of openly gay elected officials, from Sheriff Lupe Valdez to District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons to County Judge Jim Foster.
But while Foster, who chairs the Commissioners Court, is called a “judge,” he’s not a member of the judiciary, to which the county’s voters have never elected an out LGBT person.

Two Democrats running in 2010 — John Loza and Tonya Parker — are hoping to change that.

“This is the first election cycle that I can remember where we’ve had openly gay candidates for the judiciary,” said Loza, a former Dallas City Councilman who’s been involved in local LGBT politics for decades. “It’s probably long overdue, to be honest with you.”

Dallas County’s Jerry Birdwell became the first openly gay judge in Texas when he was appointed by Gov. Ann Richards in 1992. But after coming under attack for his sexual orientation by the local Republican Party, Birdwell, a Democrat, lost his bid for re-election later that year.

Also in the November 1992 election, Democrat Barbara Rosenberg defeated anti-gay Republican Judge Jack Hampton.

But Rosenberg, who’s a lesbian, wasn’t out at the time and didn’t run as an openly LGBT candidate.

Loza, who’s been practicing criminal law in Dallas for the last 20 years, is running for the County Criminal Court No. 5 seat. Incumbent Tom Fuller is retiring. Loza said he expects to face three other Democrats in the March primary, meaning a runoff is likely. In addition to groups like Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, he said he’ll seek an endorsement from the Washington, D.C.-based Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which provides financial backing to LGBT candidates nationwide.

Parker, who’s running for the 116th Civil District Court seat, declined to be interviewed for this story. Incumbent Bruce Priddy isn’t expected to seek re-election, and Parker appears to be the favorite for the Democratic nomination.

If she wins in November, Parker would become the first LGBT African-American elected official in Dallas County.

Loza and Parker are among four known local LGBT candidates in 2010.
They join fellow Democrats Fitzsimmons and Foster, who are each seeking a second four-year term.

While Foster is vulnerable and faces two strong challengers in the primary, Fitzsimmons is extremely popular and said he’s confident he’ll be re-elected.

“I think pretty much everybody knows that the District Clerk’s Office is probably the best-run office in Dallas County government,” Fitzsimmons said. “I think this county is a Democratic County, and I think I’ve proved myself to be an outstanding county administrator, and I think the people will see that.”

Randall Terrell, political director for Equality Texas, said this week he wasn’t aware of any openly LGBT candidates who’ve filed to run in state races in 2010.

Although Texas made headlines recently for electing the nation’s first gay big-city mayor, the state remains one of 20 that lack an out legislator.

Denis Dison, a spokesman for the Victory Fund, said he’s hoping Annise Parker’s victory in Houston last week will inspire more qualified LGBT people to run for office.

“It gives other people permission really to think of themselves as leaders,” Dison said.

The filing period for March primaries ends Jan. 4.


This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 18, 2009.

—  admin