According to an article published by the Washington Blade, legislation which makes permanent the mayor’s LGBT Affairs office has passed the Washington DC City Council and has been signed by the mayor.

According to the article:

His decision to sign the bill, introduced by gay Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), put to rest a dispute between Williams and the Council in which the mayor initially opposed the legislation on grounds that it would interfere with his authority to pick the leader of the office.

Williams created the office by executive order two years ago.

Some LGBT activists and politicaly involved citizens didn’t like the idea of having an office for LGBT people in a city where LGBT citizens have gained some political influence. Another argument used against the creation of the office was that LGBT citizens already had secure channels within the City Government in which their views, issues and concerns could be heard.

A small but influential LGBT group, the Gay and Lesbian Acitivists Alliance opposed the group saying that it would become a “patronage plum for an incumbent mayor and would have little impact on the needs of the gay community.”

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

According to an AP article published by the Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, VA), a bill which would ban all gay-straight student groups from Virginia schools has received approval from the Virginia House of Delegates.

The bill, sponsored by Delegate Matthew Lohr, follows a similar bill which easily passed in the House 95-0 but later died in the Senate Education and Health Committee.

Gay-straight student clubs (most commonly known as “gay-straight alliances” or “GSAs”) have been caught up in a firestorm of controversy around the country. Many state governments have been trying desperately to find ways to get around the Federal Equal Access Act (1984) which guarantees students’ rights to form groups on campus. Under the FEA schools cannot censor the student-initiated clubs on the basis of their religious, political or philosphical speech or content.

Delegate Lohr’s House Bill 1308 bans all student clubs which would promote teen promiscuity… that is, no club which advocates sexual activity between unmarried teens can exist in the schools. (Too bad they don’t realize GSAs aren’t about sex).

According to the article:

Monday, lawmakers appeared split over the bill, some arguing it unfairly singled out gay groups while others countered the legislation targeted no one.

“This bill is not aimed at one particular group,” Lohr told House members. “The intent is to give local school boards more control over the types of groups which use the buildings.”

But when pressed by Del. James Scott, D-Falls Church, about which groups could be interpreted as addressing sexual issues, Lohr referred to a situation involving a Chesterfield County gay-straight student alliance last year.

In that case, Lohr said school officials canceled a planned book signing by a gay author after it was learned the author would be including a steamy novel about gay fraternity sex.

Lohr argued school officials should have been able to quash the group entirely.

“Whether it be homosexual or heterosexual, school is just not the place to be talking about sexual activity,” said Lohr, adding he would encourage schools to disband heterosexually oriented groups that promoted teen sex.

But gay-straight alliances are focused on helping teens sort out their sexuality – not telling them how to act on it, argued Ebbin, the state’s first openly gay House member.

“What troubles me is the targeting of student groups because they (acknowledge) the idea that gay people exist,” he said.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

According to an article published by CRN Interactive, ten gay youth in Charlotte performed stories of discrimination, coming out and dealing with families. The performance was held at the Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte.

According to the article:

The script was created in workshop as collaboration between Fringe Benefits, a theatre education group based in Los Angeles, and Time Out Youth, a Charlotte organization offering support and emergency housing to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. Time Out Youth provided more than 130 nights of shelter in 2005 for LGBT teenagers who were turned away by their families.

The stories in the performance were inspired by the real life experiences of LGBT teens in Charlotte.

=====
uh… Can we get something like that up here in the Triad… especially in Winston-Salem, because God knows they have some issues over there when it comes to protecting LGBTQ youth.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I got an email today from a reporter at the News and Record about the recent Graffiti Ads/ART advertising controversy. Apparently, she had been trying to get in touch with me all weekend but for some reason the N&R email servers kept messsing up.

Last week, I also received an email from a reporter at Q-Notes. Today I emailed both reporters the official statement released by the Alternative Resources of the Triad Board of Directors, which is for some reason not yet posted on OUTGreensboro.com (Which reminds me… I should probably ask that that get done).

I would, right now, like to take the time to say a couple things about this controversy. These, of course, are MY PERSONAL OPINIONS as a gay rights activist and self-proclaimed loudmouth…

Discrimination against LGBT people or groups is something which I find very disgusting. America is supposed to be a place where all people are equal but as so often is the case, LGBT Americans are routinely discriminated against.

LGBT Americans are discriminated against in employment, housing, adoption, healthcare, medical decisions for partners, marriage, insurance, banking, education and in oh so many other places and areas. LGBT Americans face some of the most harsh prejudice, bigotry and hate. In my opinion as an activist, the actions of Graffiti Ads did nothing more but add to the already abundant and evil discrimination and prejudice against LGBT people.

Over on Sue’s blog, commenter Chip Atkinson (who said QCYNT “smacked of pedophilia” on his blog) said that both Sue and I owed an apology to Graffiti Ads. I think Sue said it for me when she responded to Mr. Atkinson saying:

Just like you still can’t spell my name, you still can’t understand what I wrote. So I won’t try to explain it again this time. You’re never going to “get it,” I fear.

I will not apologize for defending a group with which I work and my community from discrimination and prejudice… what Graffiti Ads did to ART and to the LGBT community was discrimination pure and simple. Their decisions, in my opinion, were influenced by homophobia and anti-gay politics. It doesn’t matter whether they are homophobic or anti-gay themselves or not. Even if Graffiti Ads isn’t homophobic or anti-gay, their decisions and business dealings are influenced by those factors and, in my book, that makes them just as bad as those who really are homophobic and anti-gay.

I can almost guarantee you that if Graffiti Ads had told a group like the Black Child Development Institute that an ad for them would be “too controversial” the community would have been in an uproar. Racism would not have been tolerated whatsoever and Graffiti Ads would have been bankrupt last week. If we don’t tolerate racism and hate based on someone’s skin color, why do we tolerate discrimination based on sexual orientation, no matter the underlying reasons? I guess I might just never understand how some people think.

Like I said in an earlier post (Quick update on Graffiti Ads’ anti-gay discrimination), the controversy between ART and Graffiti Ads is indicative of so many larger issues in our current political and social culture. I thank those of you in the community — both gay and straight — who are able to understand this. For those of you who can’t understand it, and especially if you are gay and can’t understand it… I pray for you.

Related Posts:

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

According to an article published by 365gay.com, a same-sex couple in Hendersonville, NC, is refusing to pay Federal and North Carolina State income taxes in protest of bans against marriage for same-sex couples.

According to the article:

Merrill, a 71-year-old artist and gay activist says the protest will involve about million dollars worth of stock sales and income.

“I have no intention of paying Federal and State Income taxes because my same sex partner and I cannot be legally married and receive the same tax benefits as other married couples,” Merrill said in a statement on Monday.

The IRS says it is legally bound by the Federal Defense of Marriage Act to treat same-sex partners as single. North Carolina also has a DOMA…

“By not paying taxes, this is a deliberate act of civil disobedience towards a President that wants to make an amendment to the Constitution to only allow marriage between a man and woman, rather than two people who love each other, and that discriminates against us as full citizens of the United States,” said Merrill.

======
Ahhh… Civil disobedience ariseth from the grave. Although this protest is a little questionable and more than illegal, I do think it will make a point. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah… I know: It won’t change anything, but like I said it will make a point.

The couple makes a good point too… one that needs to be made: Why should they have to pay taxes to a government that has specifically singled them out and placed them in a second-class citizenship status.

Let’s just pray that this doesn’t backfire on them… we don’t need a 71 year old in prison on federal or state tax evasion, lol.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

I just received an email containing a letter to the editor of The Daily Tar Heel. The letter was published today and was written by UNC Chancellor James Moeser.

In the letter Chancellor Moeser stands in support of UNC’s LGBTQA student group, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender-Straight Alliance (GLBT-SA). The group is holding events this week to highlight straight allies and the support that they bring to the LGBT community and LGBT Rights Movement.

Here’s the letter:

Chancellor and GLBTSA are united for the oppressed
Issue date: 1/30/06 Section: Letters to the Editor

TO THE EDITOR:
The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender-Straight Alliance is hosting activities this week to highlight the need for allies in their efforts to fight discrimination.

I am happy to be listed as an ally.

In doing so, I think back to the darkest days of World War II and the German occupation of Denmark. When the Nazis tried to round up Jews to send them off to the camps, the Danes, led by their king, all wore stars of David to demonstrate their solidarity with the Jews – saying in effect, “We are all Jews.” That required great courage.

It is easier, though no less important, for us to stand in solidarity with those today who might be oppressed.

Thus, I say to my friends and colleagues on this campus, I am your ally. You are part of our community, and we value your presence.

James Moeser
Chancellor
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The GLBT-SA’s “Ally Week” starts today with film screening and an “Ally Panel” will be held tomorrow. On Thursday, UNC Student Body President Seth Dearmin will be holding a forum with the GLBT-SA.

You can find out more information about UNC’s “Ally Week” at http://www.unc.edu/glbtsa/.

P.S. – Hello, Chancellor Sullivan??? Would you openly support UNCG PRIDE?

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

According to an article published by 365gay.com, a small, Christian university is comparing the expulsion of a gay student to a hospital asking a smoker to leave.

On January 13, John Brown University expelled Michael Guinn for violating “campus lifestyle guidelines”. Guinn says that he was required to abide by a code of behavior that no other student was required to follow.

The school found out about his sexual orientation, supposedly, through an email to school administrators pointing them to Guinn’s online journal.

According to the article:

According to Guinn, he was required to sign a pledge that he would not dress in women’s clothing, not slap others on the buttocks if he was a member of a sports team, not hug or shake hands with other men for too long, not “broadcast his lifestyle”, and not tell other students he was gay until he knew them well.

Guinn said it was difficult to make friends under the restrictions.

On the weekend the university released a statement to correct what it called “misconceptions” in Guinn’s account. The statement however did not address the specifics of Guinn’s allegations, except to say that it did not have separate “lifestyle” contracts for difference students.

“We can say in general, however, that Guinn’s repeated and knowing violation of the standards laid out in the community covenant that he signed warranted our disciplinary decision, which is consistent with other cases of student discipline in the past,” the statement said.

It went on to say that hospitals ask anyone smoking to leave and notes that airports remove anyone making threats, so too, the statement said, the university has the obligation to expel anyone violating its rules of conduct.

“As a Christian university we believe that scripture sets our standards for the ways in which we should live our lives. We articulate those standards for our undergraduates in our community covenant. We do not have separate covenants for different undergraduates on campus, and we discipline on the basis of behavior, not on the basis of identity,” the statement said.

======
So… the next time that Christian fundamentalists try to break the First Amendment by getting government to endorse religion, does that mean that we, as Americans, have the “obligation to expel anyone violating” our “rules of conduct”?

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

According to an article published by CNN, Army officials at Fort Bragg in North Carolina have begun investigations in regards to allegations that members from the celebrated 82nd Airborne appeared on a gay porn website.

The military-themed porn website belongs to a registered owner living in Fayetteville, NC, the city next to Fort Bragg.

According to the article:

Authorities at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, have begun an inquiry into whether the soldiers’ actions violated the military conduct code.

Division spokeswoman Maj. Amy Hannah declined to say how many paratroopers are involved or identify their unit within the division. A defense official speaking on condition of anonymity said up to seven soldiers are involved.

Hannah said soldiers questioned will be allowed to seek legal assistance, but she declined to say if any one had been charged.

“Once the investigation is complete, the chain of command will take appropriate action,” Hannah said.

The military-theme Web site does not appear to make any direct reference to the 82nd Airborne or Fort Bragg. The registered owner of the Web site’s domain name lists an address in Fayetteville, the city that adjoins Fort Bragg.

E-mails to the registered owner were returned Friday as undeliverable, and the phone number listed on the domain-name registration is no longer in service.

The Web site includes a disclaimer, asking users to agree that they are not agents of the U.S. government, Department of Defense, members of law enforcement or reporters.

The soldiers involved could face being discharged from service.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

In a comment to the prior post (http://www.onlinegreensboro.com/~matthillnc/?p=578), Joe Killian (visit his blog at joekillian.blogspot.com), makes a great point concerning Mr. Zimmer and his letter written in support of discrimination:

In my opinion Zimmer seems like a nice guy who means well but has bought into the idea that controversy and the threat of diminished revenue trumps principle. If the people of the company are truly as opposed to homophobia as he says they have no business catering to homophobes at the expense of homosexuals who want the same options and services as heterosexuals. A major cornerstone of the civil rights movement was the demand that businesses rise above “controversy” created by the small minded to stand on principle and treat all people with dignity.

I also probably need to take the time now to apologize for any personal attack which might have been perceived in my post concerning Mr. Zimmer and his letter. Roch, another commenter, and Killian both make good points about that as well.

As an activist who has worked for years in the struggle for equality it struck me as deeply offensive and hurtful when I read Mr. Zimmer’s words. Killian commented:

Of course – it’s easy for me as a straight white guy to say you shouldn’t react emotionally to a gay man telling you he thinks a discriminatory policy is okay if it makes a company more money. Beyond my feeling passionately on the subject I don’t have a dog in this fight.

I have to admit… yes… I reacted emotionally to another gay American defending the wrong and biased actions of a company. And… going on a tangent: Yes, Killian, you do have a “dog in this fight” because you are a straight ally – that is a person who is straight but who is also supportive of LGBT people and equality. Without straight allies our movement will never be won.

So… yeah… forgive me for what some of you might have seen as a “personal attack”. I just kind of wish that I wouldn’t have had to hear one of my fellow gay Americans defend discrimination and work against equality for all.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Sue has posted a letter from an employee of Graffiti Ads, LLC.

The employee says he is a gay man and he tries to defend the actions of his company.

At first I wasn’t going to post about this… I did receive his email as one of the first groups of people he sent it to. I was going to just let it pass and ignore the stupidity of the letter. After some thinking on it though, I decided I just have one thing to say:

I think it is shocking that a gay man would sit in defense of a company which discriminated against the LGBTQA community based solely on the fact that gay is seen as “too controversial”.

This man evidently has some internalized homophobia.

This issue, believe it or not… is bigger than ART and Graffiti Ads. This issue is indicative of a larger one which affects more Americans than most people think.

Discrimination based upon sexual orientation needs to be outlawed, just as discrimination based on race is. I call on the Cities of Winston-Salem and Greensboro to amend their anti-discrimination policies to reflect that LGBTQ and straight people deserve protection from those who would treat them unfairly and discriminate against them based solely on one personal, innate characteristic.

And… one more thing: This issue is not over (Sorry, Sue). This issue won’t be over, at least for me (and this comes from my personal perspective as an activist) until Greensboro and Winston change their policies and welcome LGBTQ people in the community.

See also:
Graffitti Ads LLC employee says his company isn’t homophobic…just cowardly Joe Killian

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,