Hope for the future: Another youngster speaks up for LGBT equality

Malcolm and his letter

Back in November, 2009, then 10-year-old Will Phillips of West Fork, Ark., made headlines around the country when he refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance with the rest of his classmates because the pledge includes the phrase “with liberty and justice for all,” and Will knew that LGBT Americans aren’t really guaranteed that liberty and justice.

Now, a 7-year-old named Malcolm is speaking out for LGBT equality, and putting his money where his mouth is.

Recently, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center received an envelope containing a $70 donation and a hand-written note that read: “I am sending you this money because I don’t think it’s fair that gay people are not treated equally.” It was signed, “Malcolm.”

There was another note with the donation, this one from Malcolm’s mom. She explained that in an effort to help Malcolm learn the importance of helping improve the world around him, he had been given $140 to donate to the charity of his choice. And when Malcolm heard a story on the radio about LGBT people being mistreated, he got so upset that he decided he would donate his money to LGBT causes.

Malcolm chose to split his his $140, giving half to the LA Gay and Lesbian Center and the other half to the Human Rights Campaign.

We all know that nonprofits of all stripes always need money. But they — and all of us, in fact — also always need hope. Malcolm gave the Gay and Lesbian Center and the HRC both. And he gave hope to all of us.

—  admin

‘Chiefs don’t cry, but the allergens were very high’

Dave Guy-Gainer, second from left, of Forrest Hill celebrates with Army Major Margaret Witt, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis and Air Force Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach after this morning’s DADT repeal signing ceremony. (Meghan Stabler)

We just got a call from Dave Guy-Gainer, aka “Chief,” who’s really become the face of the push to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” in North Texas over the last few years.

Guy-Gainer, a gay retired Air Force chief master sergeant who serves on the board of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, was one of about 500 people who attended this morning’s signing ceremony for the bill to repeal DADT.

Guy-Gainer said he would have driven to D.C. for the ceremony if he had to, and he was the 12th person in line this morning outside the Department of the Interior.

“Chiefs don’t cry, but the allergens were very high in that room,” Guy-Gainer said. “You couldn’t help but shed a tear in there. It was just such an overwhelming feeling of weight being lifted and equality finally happening.”

Guy-Gainer said it was great to see “40 years of gay activists” assembled together, many of whom he’s met over the last decade at functions around the country — alongside lawmakers who’ve worked so hard to end the policy.

“For the first time in a long time I really said the Pledge of Allegiance with feeling,” Guy-Gainer said. “I gave a thumbs up to Sen. Lieberman and he gave me a victory sign back. … Looking at the kids around me. Dan Choi and I were talking for a while. …

“Another one was the standing ovation that [Rep.] Patrick Murphy got,” Guy-Gainer said, recounting some of his memorable moments from the ceremony. “I think he got more applause than the president. He was the real hero in this. …  He fell on his political sword for us.”

A year ago when we interviewed Gainer, he said if repeal didn’t happen in 2010, he’d “implode.” So what will he do now that it has finally happened?

“We still have transition to do. We still have to get the certification. We’ll still probably have some legal battles in the courts,” Guy-Gainer said. “There’s still more work to be done.”

—  John Wright

Arkansas boy who refused to say Pledge named grand marshal for gay Pride parade

Last November, we told you here on Instant Tea about Will Foster, a 10-year-old boy from Fayetteville, Ark., who got in trouble because he refused to stand up with the rest of his elementary school class and say the Pledge of Allegiance.

Will Phillips
Will Phillips

Will said he wouldn’t do it because he believed that same-sex couples should have equal rights, including the right to marry, and because it would be lying to say the Pledge, which promises “liberty and justice for all,” when he knew for a fact that didn’t apply to LGBT people.

Since making headlines last fall, Will has been all over the country, his dad says, talking to “literally thousands of people” and recording public service announcements promoting LGBT equality.

Now, organizers of the Northwest Arkansas Gay Pride parade in his hometown are honoring Will Foster for his commitment to equality by naming him grand marshal of their parade.

The parade will take place in Fayetteville, beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Go here and watch a new video interview with Will, in which he declares, “It’s wrong for anyone to be treated differently just because of the way they were born.” What’s he looking for? “Full equality.”

He also notes that, having attended the parade before, he knows there will likely be protesters at some point along the parade route? How will he respond to them? “Smile wider and wave at them.”

—  admin

Protect Will Phillips!

Okay. A couple of days ago, I posted a blog here about 10-year-old Will Phillips of Arkansas who has refused to stand up in class and recite the Pledge of Allegiance until there truly is — as it promises — liberty and justice for all, and that includes equal rights for LGBT people.

Will told CNN in an interview that because of his stand, his classmates have made the assumption he is gay and have been making fun of him and calling him “gaywad.”

Now Jon Stewart has arranged some protection for Will:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Gaywatch – Peter Vadala & William Phillips
Daily Show
Full Episodes
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—  admin

"Liberty and justice for all" — One boy takes it seriously

I got an e-mail today from a man named Chris who wanted to tell me about something happening in the little town of West Fork, Ark., where a 10-year-old boy named Will Phillips is refusing to stand up in school and say the Pledge of Allegiance until the time comes when he can truly believe that the U.S.A. really does offer “liberty and justice for all.”

In the video clip below of a CNN interview with fifth-grader Will Phillips and his father Jay, Will explains: “I was analyzing the meanings of it [the pledge of allegiance] because I want to be a lawyer. … There really isn’t liberty and justice for all. Gays and lesbians can’t marry, and there is still a lot of racism and sexism in the world.”

For four days Will refused to stand up and say the pledge. And for four days the substitute teacher tried to insist that he do so, even though he told her it was his First Amendment right to refuse. On the fourth day, Will said, “Very solemnly, but with a little bit of malice in my voice, I told her, ‘Ma’am, with all due respect, you can go jump off a bridge.'”

Will got sent to the principal’s office for that remark, and has since had to face the taunts of his classmates who, he said, often call him a “gay wad.” But he’s not backing down.

What’s it going to take to get Will to start saying the Pledge of Allegiance again? Very simply: Liberty and Justice for all, and that includes the right for same-sex couples to marry. “They should have the right to marry, and I won’t swear that they do,” Will said.

The reason Chris sent this to me because Will is the son of one of his best friends from high school. Here’s what Chris said: “I wanted to share this story with you for the sole reason that this 10 year old boy is probably more courageous than I will ever be. … This young man, every time I see him, always has something brilliant to say … . Just to give you a little back story, I also grew up in and attended school in West Fork Arkansas(population 1200) and I also had the same substitute teacher in question as my own 5 grade science teacher. I was open about my sexuality in high school, and unfortunately it did not make things very easy for me. So this young man being as courageous as he is, and knowing him as I do, he receives my everlasting gratitude and respect for his actions and ideas.”

Here’s the video, so you can hear Will tell the story in his own words:

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—  admin