Esse Blog está no! Coloque o seu também! "GLBTI Weddings PLUS!": September 2007

"GLBTI Weddings PLUS!"

The Blog of the U.S.'s first GLBTI-specific Wedding and Events firm. Discussion spot for clients and visitors to interact with staff and experts, in an informal forum, regarding Gay Weddings or Same-Sex Marriage, LGBT weddings and Traditional weddings and other issues affecting the GLBTI.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Guest post on ENDA from Congressman Barney Frank

via The Bilerico Project | Daily Experiments in LGBTQ

September 28, 2007

This guest post comes to us from Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA). Congressman Frank is one of two openly gay House members, is the Chair of the Financial Services Committee, and has been a leader in the development of the Employment NonDiscrimination Act.

barney.jpgBeing in the legislative minority is easy – pulling together to block bad things does not require a lot of agonizing over tough decisions. Being in the majority is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, we have the ability to move forward in a positive way on important public policy goals. Detracting from that is the fact that it is never possible for us at any given time to get everything that we would like, and so we have to make difficult choices. But it is important to remember that the good part of this greatly outweighs the bad. Going from a situation in which all we can do is to prevent bad things from happening to one in which we have to decide exactly how much good is achievable and what strategic choices we must make to get there is a great advance. The current manifestation of this is the difficult set of decisions we face regarding the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. We are on the verge of an historic victory that supporters of civil rights have been working on for more than thirty years: the passage for the first time in American history by either house of

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Newark triple murder may be anti-gay hate crime

Victims' friends driven to despair over alleged police, media cover-up

By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | Washington Blade

A close friend of three college students who were shot to death execution style in a Newark, N.J., schoolyard in August said the students planned to join him in attending a black Gay Pride event in Queens, N.Y., the day following their deaths.

News of the students' plans to attend the Aug. 5 event at New York City's Riis Park Beach surfaced after a New Jersey gay group released a letter last week calling on Newark authorities to investigate the murders as possible anti-gay hate crimes.

The murder of the three students and the shooting of a fourth student, who is recovering from a gunshot wound to the head, shocked Newark's citizens and became the subject of international news coverage.


New Jersey Gay Rights Group Tells State Commission: 'Civil Union Law Is A Fiasco'

Article Date: 09/27/2007

By Chrys Hudson

Last night, during the first public hearing of the New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission, Garden State Equality presented evidence it believed shows “the failure of New Jersey's civil union law to provide equality as real marriage would.”

Thirty civil-unioned couples from across the state presented a joint letter to state leaders at the hearing. The couples were chosen to represent more than 300 couples who have complained to Garden State Equality, a leading gay rights group in the state, that employers won't recognize their civil unions.

In the letter, addressed to the commission as well as to New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, Senate President Dick Codey and Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts, the couples wrote: "The failure of the civil union law has affected our lives deeply. It is not a political issue to us, but a personal one. The law's failure is harming not only us, but also the children of us who are parents. We cannot wait for the equality that the civil union law was supposed to provide, but does not.

"The law's deprivation of equality has wreaked its worst havoc on same-sex families with fixed incomes, particularly in health care," they added. "Because employers in New Jersey are not recognizing civil unions on a consistent basis, the civil union law has, in effect, established one system of health care coverage for same-sex couples and another for straight couples."

An expert from Vermont also attended the hearing and testified that civil unions in Vermont “still don't work like marriage, seven years after Vermont enacted a civil unions law.

“It's not true that as time passes, civil unions will be accepted like marriage,” Beth Robinson, chair of Vermont Freedom to Marry and an attorney who has worked for years with same-sex couples, said in a statement released before the hearing. “Marriage is a word of difference.”

Likewise, experts from Massachusetts testified about the differences that have developed between the two states.

"As a labor leader whose very job involves keeping his finger on the pulse of LGBT workers all across Massachusetts, and as an advocate in constant touch with every civil rights organization and agency throughout the state, I am in a unique position to learn about, and report to you, complaints that same-sex married couples have had with ERISA,” Tom Barbera, a long-time leader in the Massachusetts AFL-CIO and in the AFL-CIO's Pride at Work organization, said in a statement released prior to Wednesday night's event.

"From the immediate weeks after May 17, 2004, when marriage equality took effect on Massachusetts, right on through today, ERISA has barely been an issue in Massachusetts, certainly not compared to New Jersey,” he added. “Without the term 'civil union' or 'domestic partner' to hide behind, employers would have to acknowledge that they are discriminating against their employees because they are lesbian or gay. And employers in a progressive state like Massachusetts are loathe to do that, as they would be in a similarly progressive state like New Jersey were you to enact a marriage equality law."

Some of the night’s most compelling evidence, however, came from Jodi Weiner, a New Jersey resident who testified that the benefits administration company working with her union had refused to grant her and her partner benefits under New Jersey's civil union law, citing the federal ERISA loophole. When the company learned Weiner and her partner had actually gotten married in Massachusetts, the company relented and agreed to give the couple benefits.

"The difference between the words 'civil union' and the word 'marriage' could not be greater,” Weiner said in a statement released before the hearings. "The words 'civil union' were not good enough for us to get equality in New Jersey , but the word 'marriage' is. Members of the commission, and elected officials, we can all talk about how the civil union law is supposed to work just like marriage. But in my case and others, it doesn't work that way in the real world."

Source: Garden State Equality Press Release

© 2007; All Rights Reserved.

Senate votes 60-39 for cloture on hate crimes legislation; voice vote adds Kennedy-Smith hate crimes amendment to Department of Defense authorization

via HRC

Chris Johnson

Picture_18_2BREAKING NEWS: We just won the Senate cloture vote on the hate crimes legislation, 60-39. Seconds later, the Senate voted by voice vote to add the Kennedy-Smith hate crimes amendment to the Department of Defense authorization bill.



Joe Solmonese just released a statement on the hate crimes bill:

For over a decade our community has worked tirelessly to ensure protections to combat violence motivated by hate and today we are the closest we have ever been to seeing that become a reality. Congress has taken an historic step forward and moved our country closer to the realization that all Americans, including the GLBT community, are part of the fabric of our nation. The new leadership in Congress fully understands that for too long our community has been terrorized by hate violence. And today, the US Senate has sent a clear message to every corner of our country that we will no longer turn a blind eye to anti-gay violence in America.

Garden State Equality will work to defeat any version of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act that excludes the transgender community

The Garden State Equality Board of Directors today adopted the statement below as organizational policy.

The Washington Blade reported today that Democratic leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives are likely to drop anti-discrimination protection for transgender people from the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a bill now making its way in Congress.

We are fortunate that New Jersey state law prohibits all discrimination, employment and otherwise, against transgender people. In 2006, New Jersey enacted a sweeping law to prevent anti-transgender discrimination, expanding the state's Law Against Discrimination. But federally and in too many other states, discrimination against the transgender community continues without impunity.

Were Congressional Democrats to remove the transgender community from ENDA, they would be sending a morally repulsive signal that discrimination against transgender community is acceptable.

With fury over this potential Congressional disgrace, and with not an ounce of equivocation, Garden State Equality hereby declares that we will work passionately to oppose any form of ENDA that excludes the transgender community.

We wish to emphasize what our opposition would mean. We would not merely be silent or neutral on an ENDA that excludes the transgender community. We would actively oppose the bill.

We would involve our 21,000 members - and hundreds of thousands of other LGBT New Jerseyans and our allies - in a hardball grassroots campaign that would relentlessly communicate our opposition to members of the state's Congressional delegation. We would aim to stop a trans-exclusionary ENDA cold.

Is Garden State Equality really saying we would rather have no ENDA at all, rather than an ENDA that excludes the transgender community? You bet. Let there be no doubt.

The standards today must be different for a Democratic Congress than the standards might have been when the Republicans were in the majority.

With Democrats controlling both houses of Congress, the notion of being practical, or taking one step at a time, with something as simple as preventing basic discrimination, is obsolete and grotesquely insulting.

Public officials in the party to which most LGBT people in America belong - and vote for and contribute to - cannot be given latitude to sell out any segment of the LGBT community, especially the transgender community.

For decades, transgender Americans have suffered heinous discrimination in employment. Transgender Americans, like the rest of the LGBT community, have been told for too many years to wait their turn. Meanwhile, they worked hard to elect a Democratic Congress.

If this is what the transgender community is getting in return, it's enough to make the skin crawl of anyone with a conscience. The LGBT community is one. Garden State Equality insists that we stand together for one another. The time has come to say enough.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Oct 12, 2007 National Coming Out Day for People of Faith

Oct 12, 2007 National Coming Out Day for People of Faith

On October 12, 2007 the remembrance of the anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s life, the Rainbow Sash Movement will be holding a sacred liturgy of remembrance for Mathew. We stand opposed to any form hate, and the murder of Mathew Shepherd was a hateful violent crime. Christians must ask what part they and Christianity played in enabling this horrific crime.

As Catholic Christians we are ashamed of our Church, and other Christian Church’s for not addressing the issue of homophobia within our own ranks. We are ashamed of those who speak up for human rights and exclude GLBT people from that umbrella, as if we came from another planet, what hypocrisy. There is no justification for this whether it is theologically, or biblical based. There is no excuse for hate.

Matthew Shepard calls us to a better way one of dialogue, and active listening. We must remember who we are, children of God. That memory has faded for many of us because of our divisions. In that spirit we welcome all people of faith, and goodwill to this National Sacred Liturgy. Our Eucharist table is a place where all God’s people gather, and we will not challenge any that feel called to join us. We will welcome you with open hearts. Let Catholics and non-Catholics come together to pray and remember the life of this wonderful young man.

Our national Liturgy will be held in the Archdiocese of Chicago to attend please email, or phone 312-266-0182. We are also calling on other communities of faith across the nation to hold this day as a national day prayer for Mathew. October 11, 2007, is national coming out day; perhaps October 12, 2007 should be national coming out day for people of faith.

Please visit for our web site

Gains For Transgender People in South Florida

Gains For Transgender People in South Florida

From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

via Straight, Not Narrow

Transgender is quietly becoming a protected class in South Florida as cities vote to prohibit discrimination against a group that faces tremendous challenges fitting in.

Palm Beach and Broward counties may extend the protection next, which could leave the broadest imprint by affording civil rights to people for their gender identity or expression. The movement accelerated with the March firing of Largo City Manager Susan Stanton, who transitioned from male to female this year.

"It shined a light on what this discrimination is," said Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Stanton's attorney. "It really underscored how important it is to have these ordinances."

Lake Worth, West Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Tequesta and Oakland Park have approved nondiscrimination clauses this year either covering city employees or all residents. Oakland Park was the latest last week and Wilton Manors may consider adding transgender as well.

County ordinances would go further by outlawing discrimination in the workplace and housing in all cities and unincorporated areas. Thirteen states and more than 90 cities and counties already have such laws, with the first passed more than 30 years ago. Advocates hope local ordinances will lead to a statewide law, health insurance coverage for sexual reassignment surgery and greater acceptance.

Advocates, though, say it's not about cross-dressing. Employers would not be asked to modify dress codes. But such suggestions speak toattitudes about gender.

Advocates like to speak of transgender more broadly as gender expression and identity to cover more people than only transsexuals.

"The transgender community is sadly one that is almost like an underground movement because of the fear of the unknown out there," said Michael Emmanuel Rajner, co-founder of the Transgender Equality Rights Initiative. "They're living, breathing human beings. They should have the same rights as everyone else."

Treating trandgender people as human beings--pretty radical but it just might catch on.

Gay Marriage and Civil Unions Are Unconstitutional

David R. Usher

Shortly after the Massachusetts Supreme Court forced same-sex marriage on folks living Down East, I realized why defenders of marriage lost the case: they litigated morals and tradition in front of a secular court looking for an equal rights argument.

I quickly realized a principle that could have won the Goodridge case, and prevented subsequent losses in other states. The principle was first published in my February 2004 article “Why Gay Marriage Is Unconstitutional”.

“[Heterosexual] marriage is the first, and the greatest guarantor of human equality in history. It is the only civil rights institution that eliminates all natural and culturally-imposed social, economic, physical, and gender disparities of men and women. It is heterosexual marriage which forms the whole cloth of the human race.”

Forty-five states have enacted constitutional amendments barring same-sex marriage, for good reasons beyond the most dangerous civil one: If any two women can marry each other, marriage will eventually become a feminist monopoly.

Feminists dearly want feminist marriage because it would feature at least six incomes: the earnings of two mothers, at least two sets of child support orders, and two sets of welfare entitlements. Feminists have invested tremendous resources litigating, whining, and screaming “discrimination” since the late 1980’s when they decided same-sex marriage was the best way to finally end all social attachments to men, ending poverty for single mothers, while making feminist marriage handsomely profitable.

Same-sex marriage has been official feminist doctrine since January 1988, when the N.O.W. Times highlighted a cryptic mandate issued by Sheila Cronin instructing normal women to pretend they are lesbian and to actively help realize the final goal:

"… The simple fact is that every woman must be willing to be {identified} as a lesbian to be fully feminist. …" [emphasis added]

In the same-sex marriage battle, gays and lesbians are merely straw mannequins propped up in courtrooms for introduction of a scurrilous equal-rights argument. This sham is revealed in the Goodridge decision, which orders the state to marry any two humans who walk through the door regardless of their sexual proclivities.

Same-sex marriage and civil union equivalents would hyper-magnify disparities between the sexes and effectively segregate them into two classes of “haves” and “have nots” based on “marital preference”. Powerful economic motivators combined with racy sexual-liberation ideologies of radical feminism would propel women to take the final, pre-emptive step to fully control family, economic and health resources, politics, and law. It would also spell a secular end to religion as we know it.

Heterosexual marriage is weathering unrelenting legal assaults by multi-purpose feminist organizations who are misusing Violence Against Women (VAWA) and other federal program entitlement dollars to force same-sex marriage on America.

Seattle activists hope to weaken the legal tenet that marriage is synonymous with procreation by passing an inititiative requiring dissolution of any heterosexual marriage if a child has not been born within three years of marriage.

New York Mayor Bloomberg hopes to slyly make same-sex marriage legal by permitting anyone to arbitrarily change the sex listed on their birth certificate.

Despite not finding a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, the New Jersey Supreme Court overstepped its authority ordering the legislature to create a civil simulation thereof The National Organization for Women promptly declared a qualified victory — insisting it will not settle for anything less than full same-sex marriage rights.

Phyllis Schlafly warns that President Bush must “un-sign” the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women [CEDAW]. Like the language of the ERA, equal-rights mandates in CEDAW could be applied to force same-sex marriage by international fiat.

Until same-sex marriage and civil unions are found unconstitutional, heterosexual marriage will slowly be whittled away by cities, legislatures and the courts. I am confident that my explication on heterosexual marriage, if fully developed by legal scholars, could be applied to stop same-sex marriage and civil unions, because it immediately proves that same-sex marriage and civil-union equivalents would commit grotesquely unequal wrongs in the name of equal rights.

One conservative legal scholar suggested that I am wrong in believing that same-sex marriage could be found unconstitutional. I disagree vigorously. Where establishment of same-sex marriage will unquestionably turn marriage into an institution that disenfranchises men in the family and society, pre-empting parental and economic rights simply because they cannot bear children from their own bodies, is to establish a separate and unequal form of government based on sex.

Men and women are unquestionably and tremendously different. The human species requires a strong civil and moral instrument guaranteed to automatically mitigate all differences that exist between the sexes, harnessing them collaboratively for pro-social purposes under God.

Feminism is the most dangerous indigenous cult in America. Its dual agenda of entitled liberation and predatory victimization continue to propel the growing divorce and illegitimacy crisises. Predatory feminism operates on the principles of repressive tolerance, espoused by Marxist philosopher Herbert Marcuse.

Evidence now proves that organized feminism has left more women and children in helplessness and poverty, living in dangerous streets, than any war in American history. America’s report card is found in UNICEF’s report “An Overview of Child Well-Being In Rich Countries”. Despite massive federal expenditures on the welfare-state nearing a half-trillion annually, the United States ranks number 20 out of 21 nations.

We must vigorously oppose any and all political candidates who support either civil unions or same-sex marriage, regardless of their positions on other issues. America cannot survive if we permit it to be run by entitled feminism.

We must not permit feminists to conveniently monopolize the institution of marriage after having gone to extraordinary lengths to destroy it. The answer to the majority of our socio-economic problems begins with protecting the civil institution of traditional marriage. Once this is accomplished we must reform federal and state policies that seriously weaken marriage via an acid combination of no-fault divorce laws and automated entitlements for illegitimacy and divorce.


David R. Usher is Senior Policy Analyst for the True Equality Network


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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Call to action on ENDA from HRC

Human Rights Campaign: Take action against hate crimes

Equal Opportunity.

Unless you're GLBT.

Tell Congress to end anti-gay workplace discrimination!

Dear Friend,

You love your job. Your supervisors give you top ratings. Then, one day, a colleague finds out you're gay. A week later, you find your desk emptied into a box. You're fired. The reason? Your sexual orientation.

Here's the worst part: firing you for being gay was 100% legal. It's an outrage. In 31 states, you can be fired solely because you're gay – and if you're transgender, that's 39 states.

After years spent laying the groundwork, the Human Rights Campaign is poised to end this injustice by helping pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). This vital legislation is likely to come up for a vote in Congress in the coming weeks – and we need your voice.

Tell your Representative to stand up for GLBT equality in the workplace before the House votes this month!

What's even more outrageous is that the radical right is fighting to keep this legislation from passing. They're using scare tactics to fire up their base, saying things like:

    "ENDA will force businesses with 15 or more employees to accommodate homosexuals, drag queens, transsexuals, and even she-males in their employment practices and facilities."1

It's absurd. And their campaign to enshrine hatred and bigotry in the American legal code will only intensify – they're putting major resources into blocking our progress, by flooding Congress with lies and misinformation.

We need your help to make sure your lawmakers know:

  • Current federal law protects workers against discrimination based on their race, gender, religion, national origin, and disability—but NOT based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • ENDA is NOT about special treatment. It does not excuse poor job performance. It simply gives gay and transgendered workers the same rights and protections as their colleagues.
  • Nearly 90% of Fortune 500 companies now include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies. It's time the government caught up with the private sector.

Our momentum is growing in the House. And Americans overwhelmingly agree that GLBT people should have equal employment opportunities. But sometimes it only takes a vocal anti-gay minority to derail legislation like this. We must spread the truth, today.

Send a message to your Representative in support of GLBT workers' rights.

We live in a country that was founded upon the principle of equal opportunity. Yet centuries later, that principle does not apply to GLBT Americans.

Thank you for helping us end this hypocrisy – so that millions of Americans can work without fear.


Joe Solmonese
Joe Solmonese

Md. high court says marriage ban OK

  • Md. high court says marriage ban OK
    A divided Maryland high court today affirmed the constitutionality of the state's law limiting marriage to couples of the opposite sex. Robert A. Zarnoch, the assistant attorney general who argued to uphold the 1973 law that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, said that any change in the statute should be decided by the legislature. In his dissent, Chief Judge Robert M. Bell noted that, "...[M]any of the arguments made in support of the anti-miscegenation laws were identical to those made today in opposition to same-sex marriage." The Sun (Baltimore) (free registration) (9/18)

Monday, September 17, 2007

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection today denied the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association's request for continued tax breaks

Monday, September 17, 2007 -- The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection today denied the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association's request for continued tax breaks for the public boardwalk pavilion area on which the Association has banned gay civil unions.

On September 6, Garden State Equality and Ocean Grove United wrote a three-page legal letter to DEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson requesting that the Department deny the Camp Meeting Association's request.
As Garden State Equality and Ocean Grove United wrote, state environmental regulations and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination specify that land receiving tax breaks must have open, nondiscriminatory access to the public. The ACLU of New Jersey wrote a subsequent letter to DEP underscoring these arguments.
"Though we're not home free yet, today's decision by the Corzine Administration is a significant victory for liberty and justice for all in Ocean Grove," said Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality. "The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association has only itself to blame for what will now be the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The question is, how much more hell will the Camp Meeting Association, and its national right-wing extremist backers, put the good people of Ocean Grove through?"
[If you'd like to support Garden State Equality's pathbreaking work, consider buying a ticket to their upcoming BLUE JEAN BALL and Barbecue Bonanza! on Sunday afternoon, October 14th. You may buy tickets online now at]
In response to the Camp Meeting Association's ban, two couples seeking to get civil-unioned on the boardwalk have filed complaints with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights. The Camp Meeting Association has filed a lawsuit to allow it to continue the ban.
"We all know how this saga is going to wind up," Goldstein said. "The boardwalk will eventually be open once again to civil unions. Our side is going to win hands down because the law is overwhelmingly on our side. The boardwalk is public property by virtue of its use for decades by the public. It's time for the Camp Meeting Association to see the handwriting on the pavilion, and end its discriminatory ban now."

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Ocean Grove couple was denied use of pavillion

Civil union ceremony set for pier

Posted by the Asbury Park Press BY BILL BOWMAN

OCEAN GROVE — Sunday will be a "dream come true" for an Ocean Grove couple when they hold their civil union ceremony on the fishing pier.

Janice Moore, 70, and Emily Sonnessa, 77, will hold their ceremony at 3 p.m. Sunday in front of about 60 relatives and friends, Moore said. The ceremony will be officiated by Neptune Deputy Mayor Randy Bishop.

The couple is one of two battling the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association over its refusal to allow same-sex civil unions in the boardwalk pavilion. The association maintains that the pavilion is a religious structure, while Ocean Grove's gay community and its supporters say it is a public area.

"I am so excited," Moore said. "I can't believe that we ever lived to see this come into effect, these (civil union) laws. And I'm so grateful to God that if we have any young ones in the family who grow up, and they happen to be gay, they don't face these problems. Maybe we can make their path easier in life."

Moore and Sonnessa have been together for nearly 38 years, Moore said.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Task Force, Inc., urges California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign marriage equality bill


Task Force, Inc., applauds California Legislature’s passage of measure and the work of state partner and bill sponsor, Equality California

Second time in two years the Legislature has passed a bill that would grant same-sex couples the right to marry

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc., is urging California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign a marriage equality bill passed Friday by the state Senate. With a 22-15 vote, the Senate approved AB 43, authored by Assemblymember Mark Leno and sponsored by Equality California (EQCA). The Assembly passed the bill on June 5 with a 42-34 vote. This is the second time in two years that the California Legislature has passed a bill that would give all couples equal access to a marriage license. The governor has until Oct. 14 to act on the bill.

Statement by Matt Foreman, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc.

“The California Constitution is clear: Everyone is equal under the law, and that’s just what this bill does — grants equality to all couples. For far too long, too many California families have been placed in harm’s way because they lack the full, fundamental protections they deserve. Governor Schwarzenegger can rectify this inequality by stepping up and signing this bill the moment it lands on his desk.”

Statement by Thalia Zepatos, Organizing & Training Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Foundation

“One thing is clear — marriage equality is inevitable in this state — it’s only a question of time before the courts, the Legislature and the people of California all unite around this basic principle of equality. We are looking to Governor Schwarzenegger to be a leader and get out in front of where the people are already going.

“We commend the staff and leaders of Equality California, Assemblymember Mark Leno and all the allies and legislators who’ve worked so hard to support this bill.”

About the Task Force’s work in California:

Through its partnership with EQCA, the Task Force has been working to build support for the freedom to marry in California. The Task Force has five full-time organizers in California who have helped establish a coalition of more than 45 organizations that support marriage equality. Since 2004, the Task Force has spent more than $500,000 in organizing, training and supporting these efforts.


The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc. (“NGLTF, Inc.”), founded in 1974, works to build the grassroots political power of the LGBT community to win complete equality. We do this through direct and grassroots lobbying to defeat anti-LGBT ballot initiatives and legislation and pass pro-LGBT legislation and other measures. We also analyze and report on the positions of candidates for public office on issues of importance to the LGBT community. NGLTF, Inc., is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation incorporated in New York. Contributions to NGLTF, Inc., are not tax-deductible.

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Transgender pastor's new test of faith

Dennis Drenner / For The Times
The Rev. Drew Phoenix, formerly the Rev. Ann Gordon, at St. John’s of Baltimore City. The Judicial Council will take up his case next month, deciding whether the church should accept transgender pastors.

via the LA TIMES, By Stephanie Simon, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

A United Methodist council's decision on whether to accept him could have political implications too.

BALTIMORE — The Rev. Ann Gordon stood in front of her United Methodist congregation last fall and announced that she was now he.

Surgery and testosterone had transformed Ann into the Rev. Drew Phoenix -- still as liberal and laid-back as always, but now legally male. Most in the small congregation accepted their pastor's transition; they even threw him a renaming party, complete with birthday cake.

But when Phoenix, 48, was reappointed to another year of ministry this spring by his bishop, it sparked a protest in the United Methodist Church.

The denomination's highest authority, the Judicial Council, will take up the case next month, deciding whether the church should accept transgender pastors. The decision will determine Phoenix's future; it could also have political implications.

Presiding over the Judicial Council is Dr. James W. Holsinger Jr., President Bush's nominee for surgeon general and a longtime lay leader of the United Methodist church. Democrats have objected to Holsinger in large part because of work he has done for his church over the years.

In 1991, Holsinger wrote a paper for the church describing gay sex as abnormal and unhealthy. On the Judicial Council last year, he supported a pastor who would not permit a gay man to join his congregation. Holsinger has also affirmed the church's stance against openly gay and lesbian clergy.

The Senate has not yet scheduled a vote on Holsinger, though his confirmation hearing was two months ago. He has been asked to answer further questions in writing. In the meantime, Holsinger will handle several Judicial Council cases dealing with sexuality. Most prominent is the question of Phoenix's right to remain in ministry.

The United Methodist Book of Discipline, which sets out rules for the denomination, does not address the issue of gender identity. But since it bans discrimination on the basis of gender -- a point intended to ensure the equality of male and female clergy -- Phoenix argues in a legal brief: "There is no basis for prohibiting my appointment . . . based on my identification as male."

Behind that phrase -- "my identification as male" -- is a lifetime of longing.

Even as a young girl, Ann Gordon felt sure she was meant to be a boy. She played football every afternoon, clearing the snow off her yard in winter so she could practice the moves of her idol, NFL quarterback Roman Gabriel. One of her happiest moments as a teen was playing Joseph in a Christmas pageant and hearing the minister tell her: "Ann, you look handsome."

She grew up thinking of church as forbidding -- all about "obeying the big daddy in the sky." But, to her surprise, she found herself tugged toward ministry after several years abroad with the Peace Corps. Five years ago, Gordon was assigned to lead St. John's of Baltimore City.

Set on a residential street lined with brownstones -- some painted bright pink or green -- St. John's serves a diverse slice of downtown. Within a few blocks, there's a Korean newspaper, an African Braiding House, a sushi bar, and a kebab restaurant that serves meat slaughtered in accordance with Muslim law.

The church had absorbed none of that vitality when Gordon arrived. The congregation numbered fewer than a dozen. Gordon threw herself into bringing St. John's back to life with the mantra: "We worship a radically inclusive God."

She reached out to gays and lesbians, welcomed agnostics, opened the 100-year-old stone church to yoga, tai chi, antiwar lectures, even a screening of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."

Word spread about Gordon's spirited services: how she invited questions as she spoke, making her sermons feel more like college seminars than a list of "Thou shalts." How she emphasized themes of social justice, and organized her flock to help the poor.

Weekly services now draw at least three dozen -- mostly well-educated white-collar professionals. On one recent Sunday, a check for $1,000 was tossed into the collection basket along with the usual array of rumpled bills.

Even with her success, however, Gordon felt empty, unbalanced, as if she were acting a part. In 2004, on a trip to the Alaskan coast, walking along what felt like the very edge of the Earth, she finally dared to ask herself what was missing. Then she found the courage to act on her answer.

Never during her eight-month-long transition did she question whether God would want her to renounce her femininity. She was sure God had intended her to be male; her woman's body was meant to challenge her. And, perhaps, to push her church toward a fuller understanding of Christ's love.

"Maybe this is my gift to the church. Maybe part of the reason I became pastor was this very moment," Phoenix said.

He revels in his physical changes: His knuckles are hairy! His biceps bulge! But he also finds joy in a new sense of unity with his creator. "It's like when you come back after a long trip, you collapse on the couch . . . and you just feel, 'I'm home,' " he said. "I am who I am. God doesn't make mistakes."

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Freedom to Marry Releases Candidates’ Guide


Following last week's historic ruling in Iowa, in which a Polk County judge found no good reason for excluding same-sex couples from marriage, Freedom to Marry is releasing a new online publication, Candidates' Guide on How to Support Marriage Equality and Get Elected.

The guide explains that candidates should support the freedom to marry not just because it is the right thing to do, but also because it is in their interest. The guide also makes the case, reinforced last week in Iowa, that the debate over ending marriage discrimination will not go away, and lays out for candidates how to stand on clear principle, make the case for ending exclusion and throw the challenge back at opponents.

"Candidates' stand on ending the denial of the freedom to marry signifies a lot about their values, character, and authenticity," Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality and Gay People's Right to Marry, said in a statement. "To help them rise to fairness, it's important that we create a space for more Americans and their elected representatives by talking about why marriage matters and the need to end exclusion."

After a month of discussion about whether candidates could or should avoid talking about marriage prompted by the Aug. 9 HRC/Logo presidential forum, August ended with the powerful marriage ruling in Iowa, a state which for many is an epicenter of presidential campaigns.

As Freedom to Marry noted throughout August in a series of articles, candidates, even those saying marriage is primarily "a state issue," will continue to be pressed to talk about marriage discrimination.

The Candidates' Guide offers assistance in answering questions such as why marriage matters, the difference between the freedom to marry and parallel or lesser legal mechanisms such as civil union and how to respond to opponents' claims.

As the Harkin Steak Fry approaches on Sept. 16, with most of the Democratic presidential candidates scheduled to attend, and as Republican candidates so far have criticized the Iowa judge for doing his job, Freedom to Marry suggested candidates should use the new guide to be ready to discuss how court decisions such as the ruling for marriage in Iowa represent fairness for families and the American values the candidates profess.

The Candidates' Guide on How to Support Marriage Equality and Get Elected is available on the Freedom to Marry website in pdf form. For further reading on last week's Iowa court decision, visit Freedom to Marry's Iowa decision information webpage.

Source: Freedom to Marry

© 2007; All Rights Reserved.

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Israeli Police Bust Neo-Nazi Ring

by The Associated Press
© 2007

(Jerusalem) In a case that would seem unthinkable in the Jewish state, police said Sunday they have cracked a cell of young Israeli neo-Nazis accused in a string of attacks on foreign workers, religious Jews, drug addicts and gays.

Eight immigrants from the former Soviet Union have been arrested in recent days in connection with at least 15 attacks, and a ninth fled the country, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said, in the first such known cell to be discovered in Israel.

All the suspects are in their late teens or early 20s and have Israeli citizenship, Rosenfeld said. A court decided Sunday to keep them in custody.

"The level of violence was outrageous," Maj. Revital Almog, who investigated the case, told Israel's Army Radio.

Gang members were arrested in recent days, and a gag order on the case was lifted early Sunday.

News of the arrests came as a shock in Israel, which was founded nearly 60 years ago as a refuge for Jews in the wake of the Nazi Holocaust and remains a most sensitive subject. Any forms of anti-Semitism around the world outrage Israelis, and the discovery of such violence in the country's midst made the front pages of newspapers and dominated talk on morning radio shows.

The gang documented its activities on film and in photographs. Israeli TV stations showed grainy footage of people lying helpless on floors while several people kicked them, and of a man getting hit from behind on the head with an empty bottle.

Police found knives, spiked balls, explosives and other weapons in the suspects' possession, Rosenfeld said. One photo that was seized showed one suspect holding an M16 rifle in one hand and in the other, a sign reading "Heil Hitler," he added.

Police discovered the skinhead ring after investigating the desecration of two synagogues that were sprayed with swastikas in the central Israeli city of Petah Tikva more than a year ago, Rosenfeld said.

Police computer experts have determined they maintained contacts with neo-Nazi groups abroad, and materials seized include a German-language video about neo-Nazis in the U.S.

The group planned its attacks, and its targets were foreign workers from Asia, drug addicts, homosexuals, punks and Jews who wore skullcaps. In one case they discussed planning a murder, Rosenfeld said, without providing details.

Some of the victims filed official complaints with police, and other victims were identified after police viewed the films and photos.

In the past, there have been only isolated cases of neo-Nazi activity in Israel. "This is the first time that we've ... arrested such a large number of individuals who are part of an organized neo-Nazi group," Rosenfeld said.

Under Israeli law, a person can claim citizenship if a parent or grandparent has Jewish roots. Authorities say that formulation allowed many Soviets with questionable ties to Judaism to immigrate here after the Soviet Union disintegrated. About 1 million Soviets moved here in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Rosenfeld said all the suspects had "parents or grandparents who were Jewish in one way or another."

Israel doesn't specifically have a hate crimes law, and suspects in past cases have been tried as Holocaust deniers, he said.

The Anti-Defamation League, a U.S.-based group that fights anti-Semitism, condemned the neo-Nazi cell, but urged Israelis not to stigmatize the entire Russian immigrant community based on the acts of what appeared to be a marginal group.

"The suspicion that immigrants to Israel could have been acting in praise of Nazis and Hitler is an anathema to the Jewish state and is to be repelled," the statement read. "The tragic irony in this is that they would have been chosen for annihilation by the Nazis they strive to emulate."

Amos Herman, an official with the semiofficial Jewish Agency, which works on behalf of the government to encourage immigration to Israel, said the phenomenon was not representative of the Russian immigration.

He called the gang a group of frustrated, disgruntled youths trying to strike at the nation's most sensitive core.

"We thought that it would never happen here, but it has and we have to deal with it," he said.

© 2007

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Jamaica gay hate crimes proving deadly

Bigatory (sic) towards gay men and lesbians in Jamaica continues to be a growing problem.

In a contradiction to other Latin American countries, Jamaica is proving to be one of the highlighted anti-gay countries in the western hemisphere.

Newsweek has reported that close to 100 gay men and lesbians were targeted in more than 40 mob attacks in Jamaica from February to July this year. Attacks included the murder of four gay men, four lesbians being raped, and houses for two other men being set on fire.

One other highlighted attack took place on 14 February, where police authorities attacked an activist who was attempting to help three men cornered near a pharmacy by slapping him in the face and hit him with a rifle butt in the abdomen. It took authorities two hours to arrive at the scene after the initial incident was reported.

Major political outcry over gays and lesbians looks likely to continue for at least the immediate future in Jamaica, with current laws stating that anal intercourse is illegal, as well is the continual growth of evangelical Christian churches.

In a political campaign leading up to an election in 2001, the Jamaican Labour Party used the song Chi Chi Man; a song which celebrates the burning and killing of gay men.

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Gay Marriage Approved in California, Again

Via truthdig
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Posted on Sep 7, 2007

Arnold Schwarzenegger has until mid-October to put his pen where his mouth is on gay issues. For the second time, the California Legislature has passed a law that would make marriage in the state gender-neutral. The governor vetoed the first effort back during his more conservative phase.

The Human Rights Campaign’s Joe Solmonese warns Schwarzenegger to consider his legacy: “We urge Gov. Schwarzenegger to think about how the history books will remember this decision. He has an opportunity before him to be remembered as a courageous governor who stood up for equal treatment under the law for all families.”

San Francisco Chronicle:

For the second time in three years, the state legislature has approved a measure giving same-sex couples the right to marry in California, with [Friday’s] Senate vote split along party lines and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger expected to veto the bill as he did in 2005.

“Marriage is more than just a civil contract ... it is different from domestic partners, it’s just different from civil unions—it means something,” said Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, who presented the bill and was also the first openly gay person to be elected to the legislature. “And because it means something, that’s why it’s been denied to us.”

The bill, AB43, is the third effort by Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, to pass what he has termed a “gender-neutral marriage” bill. The act would amend the California Family Code to define marriage as a civil contract between two persons.

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Transgender men outraged over mall bathroom incident

Transgender men outraged over mall bathroom incident

Simon Adriane (left) and Sean Brochin

By KOMO Staff

KATU-TV, Portland,OR SEATTLE -- Two transgender men say they're the victims of discrimination after they were kicked out of a downtown mall for allegedly using the wrong restroom.

Trouble began when Simon Adriane and Sean Brochin needed to use the bathroom after watching a movie at Pacific Place mall in downtown Seattle.

Adriane and Brochin, who were both born female but consider themselves male, entered the men's bathroom, which upset a man in teh bathroom.

But the mall claims the men were simply disruptive.

"He was screaming 'you're a woman, you can't be in here!'" said Adriane.

"The first thing I thought is 'oh no, not again.' Because it happened many times in my life," Brochin said.

Adriane tried calming the man.

"I said I'm not a girl, I'm just here to pee," he said.

But the customer called security.

"Security was banging on the door and ordered us to get out," Adriane said.

The security guard escorted the pair out of the bathroom and out of the mall.

According to the state Human Rights Commission, transgenders are protected and have the right to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with.

But the commission recommends they use the unisex or family restroom to avoid wrestling with gender issues. In this case, Adriane and Brochin said it was occupied.

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Iowa Gay Marriage Applications Halted

Lambertville Civil Union

Gay couples from anywhere in Iowa could apply for a marriage license from Polk County under Judge Robert Hanson's ruling. (File)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Same-sex marriage was legal here for less than 24 hours before the county won a stay of a judge's order on Friday, a tiny window of opportunity that allowed two men to make history but left dozens of other couples disappointed after a frantic rush to the altar.

At 2 p.m. Thursday, Judge Robert Hanson ordered Polk County officials to accept marriage license requests from same-sex couples, but he granted the stay at about 12:30 p.m. Friday. By then 27 same-sex couples had filed applications, but only Sean Fritz and Tim McQuillan of Ames had made it official by getting married and returning the signed license to the courthouse in time.

In the front yard of the Rev. Mark Stringer, pastor of the First Unitarian Church of Des Moines, they become the only same-sex couple wed in the U.S. outside of Massachusetts, where some 8,000 such couples have tied the knot.

Stringer concluded the ceremony by saying, "This is a legal document and you are married." The men then kissed and hugged.

"This is it. We're married. I love you," Fritz told McQuillan after the ceremony.

No more same-sex weddings will be recognized, and no more applications will be accepted, pending Polk County's appeal of Hanson's ruling to the Iowa Supreme Court, County Attorney John Sarcone said.

Hanson's order had applied only to the county, but because any Iowa couple could apply for a license, people from across the state rushed to Des Moines, only to see fluorescent green signs explaining the stay and adding, "Sorry for the inconvenience."

Lytishya Borglum and partner, Danielle Borglum, drove 2 1/2 hours from Cedar Falls, along with their 13-month-old daughter, Berlyn. They planned to apply in Polk County and told their pastor in Cedar Falls to be ready to marry them when they returned.

"(We) plan to take the application home and pray that things change. Even though it is a setback, it is a step in the right direction," Lytishya Borglum said.

She said they would like to get legal status to gain more rights but added, "As far as we're concerned, our marriage is between us and God. We've been married for three years — if you ask us."

Accepting marriage licenses from same-sex couples has been illegal under a 1998 state law that permitted only a man and a woman to marry.

Hanson, ruling in a case filed by six same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses in 2005, declared the law unconstitutional Thursday. He ruled that the marriage laws "must be read and applied in a gender neutral manner so as to permit same-sex couples to enter into a civil marriage."

The marriage license approval process normally takes three business days, but Fritz and McQuillan took advantage of a loophole that allows couples to skip the waiting period if they pay $5 and get a judge to sign a waiver.

Other couples, even those who got an early start Friday, were out of luck. Katy Farlow and Larissa Boeck, students at Iowa State University, said they got to the county recorder's office at 5 a.m., then sat in lawn chairs and ate snacks until the office opened at 7:30 a.m. They got their application in but didn't get their license.

"This might be our only chance," Farlow said. "We already knew we were spending the rest of our lives together."

Hanson granted the stay after Sarcone filed a motion saying his ruling should be put on hold because lifting the ban was far reaching and would likely be overturned by the Iowa Supreme Court.

Hanson wrote that Sarcone's arguments "do indeed constitute good cause for the issuance of the requested stay."

Plaintiff's attorney Dennis Johnson had argued that the county's appeal probably would not succeed and disputed its contention that a reversal would throw any licenses issued into legal doubt.

He said a marriage license is valid until one or both of the spouses seek to have it dissolved or one dies, "regardless of changes in the law that may occur after the couple marries."

The Iowa Supreme Court can refer the case to the Iowa Court of Appeals, consider the matter itself or decide not to hear the case. The flurry of activity in the courts prompted a quick response from some lawmakers. House Republican leader Christopher Rants called on Democrats, who hold a majority of seats in the Legislature, to respond.

"The Democrats should call a special session immediately to take up such issues and to introduce a marriage amendment for Iowa's constitution," he said in a statement. "House Democrats need to start leading or get out of the way."

Language defining marriage as being between a man and a woman has been written into the constitutions of 27 states, according the National Conference of State Legislatures. Most other states have laws to the same effect; Iowa's was approved overwhelmingly by the Legislature in 1998.

Gov. Chet Culver on Thursday issued a statement stating his opposition to gay marriage and said he would wait for the court process to play out before considering any push for legislative action.

"While some Iowans may disagree on this issue, I personally believe marriage is between a man and a woman," Culver said.

Gay marriage is legal in Massachusetts, and nine other states have approved spousal rights in some form for same-sex couples.

Associated Press writers Henry C. Jackson, Amy Lorentzen and Nafeesa Syeed contributed to this report.