I’m bitter and outraged. Perhaps even a little radical. The Arizona Senate has broken all that America cherishes as our foundational principles and ideals. The federal government, charged with enforcing these ideals as embodied in the Constitution, is, of course, no where to be found.

Arizona, after soundly defeating a marriage amendment in 2006, will yet again face another constitutional showdown at the ballot box. It was decided last night. The vote on the amendment is maddening in and of itself, but what happened to two openly gay members of the Arizona Senate is even more maddening.

From Equality Arizona:

Integrity Lost
Tonight’s debate was intense for everyone on the Senate floor and those of us watching in the gallery. But what happened to our openly-gay Senators by their colleagues was absolutely disgusting. Senate extremists strategically broke the rules of the Senate, which govern the processes for discussion and voting on bills. During a filibuster-like discussion on another bill during Committee of the Whole, Majority Leader Thayer Verschoor (R-22) and Majority Whip John Huppenthal (R-20), among others, devised a scheme with committee chairman Jack Harper (R-4) to outright violate the rules of the Senate and the rights of Senators Aboud and Cheuvront.

In the middle of their discussion, Senator Harper turned off the microphones of Senators Paula Aboud (D-28) and Ken Cheuvront (D-15) and called on the Majority Leader to make a motion. Then, when Senators Aboud and Cheuvront loudly called for a Point of Order several times, even walking to the front desk where Senator Harper sat, he deliberately ignored their calls. To add insult to injury, these people attempted to justify their actions, even after the Senate President and other Senators admonished them for deliberately breaking the rules. Tonight’s actions of these and other Senators have forever tainted that body, and it’s important that we all let the people of Arizona know how these individuals acted so unethically.

If this happened in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas or Virginia, and if these clear violations of the rights of American citizens duly elected to represent the People in a body like the Senate had happened to African-Americans, the federal government would be all over it like white on rice.

Arizona Sens. Paula Aboud and Ken Cheuvront (pictured right) were, without question, denied their rights as duly elected members of the Arizona Senate and their rights as American citizens. As Equality Arizona has said, the amendment vote in that state was nothing less than a referendum on the LGBT community itself, including Sens. Aboud and Cheuvront.

Maybe I’m just a radical, but since the federal government is clearly not going to enforce our Constitution (as they would if these violations had occurred against African-Americans), the People should take their own stand. Arizona LGBTs should be out on the street today, demanding the impeachment/recall/resignation of those Arizona Senate members who stripped their gay colleagues of their rights.

All LGBT Americans, by the actions of the Arizona Senate, have been reminded that we are not equal, do not have the rights of other American citizens and should be silenced. Further, they’re willing to enshrine these shameful, bigoted beliefs into their state constitution.

But where is the federal government? They’re twiddling their thumbs.

Why aren’t they enforcing the Supreme Law of the Land? Because they could really care less; after all, it just happened to the gays.

“Created equal.” “Out of many one.” “Inalienable rights.” “Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness.”

Yeah… it all sounds good, but sometimes it’s just so hard not to think of it all as bullshit, and nothing more.

I bet anyone a $100 the federal government does nothing to punish the Arizona Senate for their actions against Sens. Aboud and Cheuvront. When (not if) I win the bet, I’ll send ya’ll my paypal link.

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Neglect

Oh, my poor little InterstateQ. I’ve been neglectful, I know. Busy, busy days at work as we head into the Pride Charlotte festival on July 26, 2008. Our meeting tonight (or last night if you’re going to be reading this Friday morning) marks/ed the one month to go point. There’s no turning back now.

Exciting things in store.

But since I’m being so neglectful here, I’m sure ya’ll be happy to know I’m now on Twitter. Easier and quicker to update. Keep up with me there.

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Taking The Truth to Texas

Casey will be absent for at least the summer as she is busy working for the Log Cabin Republicans in Washington, DC and I received my first of I’m sure many updates from her. LCR hosted a reception during the Texas Republican Convention to break bread (or pizza) with the delegates and discuss important issues of LGBT equality. Speaking truth in places where it is not usually present and sometimes even unwelcome is an important part of the path to full equality, from the Equality Ride, to Right to Marry conversations in upstate to New York, to the Texas Republican Convention. Talk about courage. A participant shares his experiences after the jump.

Continue reading this post…

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A hot gay Mormon flight attendant

Rachael Ray talks with “Survivor” host about Todd Herzog, the openly gay, Mormon “Survivor” cast member.

In depth:

WFMY News 2 (Greensboro) did a wonderful story (video here) on my two good friends and mentors Gary Trowbridge and Frank Benedetti, a couple whose been together for decades. They are looking forward to a legal wedding in California. The state started legal marriages for same-sex couples yesterday at 5 p.m. (PST).

The Rev. Ron Baity of the extremely anti-gay Berean Baptist Church in Winston-Salem was also interviewed for the story:

Legalizing their union is a prospect deeply troubling to Pastor Ronnie Baity. “The truth of the matter is God says it’s sin, and that should settle it, that should solve the issue once and for all,” said Baity.

He aims to rally other churches behind defining marriage in North Carolina as between one man and one woman. “If we don’t stand up for the values this nation was founded upon, our nation’s going down the tube,” says Baity.

[…]

Pastor Baity points out North Carolina does not have an explicit constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. He hopes to change that.

Baity and his church have been involved in the fight against the full recognition of LGBT Americans’ human dignity and civil rights for a while. He was instrumental in helping the Thomasville, N.C. City Council and the Davidson County Board of Commissioners pass resolutions calling for a statewide anti-LGBT, anti-family marriage amendment.

Just a sampling of the hateful bile he spewed at the Thomasville City Council:

The truth of the matter is the Lord Jesus Christ said marriage was between one man and one woman… You can’t make anything else out of that. God had an urban renewal program for Sodom and Gomorrah because they were caught up in that…

Baity was also instrumental in organizing the thousands strong throng of hateful, blind sheep at the N.C. General Assembly in March 2007. Their cries of “Let us vote!” sounded eerily familiar to the audio recorded screams of joy from the blind followers of late-1930s Germany.

Q-Notes June 14 issue contains an investigative piece on the Charlotte, N.C.-based Time Out Youth, written by staff writer Jack Kirven and Associate Editor David Stout.

Founded in 1991, Time Out Youth is an LGBT youth support, education and advocacy organization that serves teens and young adults ages 13-23. Their CEO, Janine K. Eustache, has recently come under fire from youth members, former interns and volunteers. Donors and other community members have raised questions and concerns regarding what seems to be Eustache’s inexperience with LGBT issues and her general lack of knowledge when it comes to serving the unique needs of LGBT youth.

As one community member told me, serving “at-risk” youth is entirely different from serving the needs of gay youth: Different issues, different dynamics and definitely, different societal pressures, reactions and attitudes.

For full disclosure, it should be noted that I have been a youth member of Time Out Youth. In fact, I’m still a youth member. To prevent any personal conflicts, I ceded full editorial control of the Q-Notes article and the accompanying editorial to my associate editor, David Stout.

The coverage of the controversy comes in two parts, an article and editorial:

LGBT youth group CEO under scrutiny
by Jack Kirven and David Stout
CHARLOTTE — Time Out Youth (TOY), a local support, advocacy and education organization for LGBT youth founded in 1991, is coming under fire from some youth members, former interns and volunteers who feel that the agency is moving in the wrong direction under the management of current CEO Janine K. Eustache.

Eustache took the helm at TOY last fall. She brought with her an impressive employment history that included 18 years of work with non-profit organizations. She was formerly the southeast regional director of Save the Children, a global child relief organization; an executive at LaFace Records in Atlanta, Ga.; and the executive director of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus. In 2003, she was appointed by Gov. Michael Easley to the N.C. Human Relations Commission.

Despite her dazzling resumé, Eustache’s critics charge that she isn’t experienced and comfortable working with the LGBT community and, in particular, serving the unique needs of LGBT and questioning youth. These alleged shortcomings have directly led to internal problems at TOY, they assert. Read the rest at Q-Notes Online

EDITORIAL: Time Out Youth, Adding insult to injury
Since its founding in 1991, Time Out Youth (TOY) has been one of the Charlotte LGBT community’s most important organizations and one of its finest resources. Thousands of LGBT and questioning youth have been guided through the challenging process of coming out and growing up during the agency’s 13 years of operation.

Because the mission of TOY is so vital, people pay attention when there are rumblings of trouble within the agency. When those rumblings turn into air raid sirens, as they have the last few months, a full investigation is warranted. This is what we have attempted to do with this issue’s cover story. Read the rest of the editorial by David Stout

The June 14 issue of Q-Notes contains an article on the California marriage decision and its possible impact (or, more likely, possible backlash) in the Carolinas.

Marriage gains are a two-edged sword

In 1970, two gay students at the University of Minnesota attempted to obtain a marriage license. When they were denied, they took their case to the state’s court system. When the suit reached Minnesota’s Supreme Court, the students lost.

Forty years later, the push for basic marriage rights for same-sex couples has eclipsed employment non-discrimination, hate crimes legislation and repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military policy to become the number one advocacy issue of national LGBT organizations and influential LGBT activists.

There’s no doubt that civil marriage — and the plethora of federal, state and local rights and privileges that come with it — would allow same-sex couples to better care for themselves and their children. Full marriage equality would also further assimilate the gay community into mainstream American society.

On May 15, the push toward these ideals was given an enormous boost when the California Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional state laws limiting marriage to one man and one woman. After surviving a right-wing attempt to have a stay placed on the decision, on June 16 at 5 p.m., the ruling becomes effective and same-sex couples will begin to marry.

Read the rest at Q-Notes Online

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Rape victim shares his story, Part Two

From the June 14 issue of Q-Notes, part two of a N.C. gay man’s experience with rape and sexual assault, its aftermath and the ensuing community response (or lack thereof):

Male rape victim shares his story, Part Two

by Matt Comer & David Stout . Q-Notes staff

HICKORY — The first half of this two-part series, published in the May 31 issue of Q-Notes, began with some eye-opening statistics. To recap: The U.S. Justice Department reports that one in every 10 rape victims is male. A national study found that three percent of American men (2.78 million) have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape, and 60 percent of those men identify as gay or bisexual.

The Hickory Police Department said a total of 31 adult sexual assault or rape cases were reported in 2007. Of those, only one — the case of our alleged victim, identified here with the pseudonym Brian — was an instance of male-on-male sexual assault.

North Carolina law does not recognize that a man can rape another man. Therefore, when both parties are male, cases that would be considered rapes elsewhere are prosecuted as sexual assaults in North Carolina.
Part two of Brian’s story, presented here, details his experiences and interactions with the community agencies charged with assisting victims of sexual assault and rape.

Read the rest at Q-Notes Online

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A pastor at a Southern Baptist Church in Lewisville, N.C., a suburb of Winston-Salem, is one of six candidates for the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Les Puryear, who worked as a telecom executive for 25 years, has been a pastor since 1996; this is his third year as the senior pastor of Lewisville Baptist Church.

According to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s news service, other candidates include Wiley Drake, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, Calif.; Johnny Hunt, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga.; Avery Willis, a former Southern Baptist missionary and retired senior vice president of overseas operations for the International Mission Board; Frank Cox, pastor of North Metro Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, Ga. and William L. (Bill) Wagner, a former Southern Baptist missionary and seminary professor and current president of Olivet University International in San Francisco (Sep 7, 2007).

Puryear, who runs his own blog, says that Mormons are not Christians. He also quotes several evangelicals and tries to draw a parallel between their rationalization of accepting a possible Mitt Romney presidency with the coming of the anti-Christ.

The Southern Baptist Convention’s 2008 Annual Meeting and various other events will be held June 8-11 in Indianapolis, Indiana.