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LGBT couples to apply for marriage licenses Wednesday

Monday, July 28th, 2014

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Article source: http://www.abcnews4.com/story/26124361/lgbt-couples-to-apply-for-marriage-licenses-wednesday

LGBT Pride Rally Held in St. Petersburg Without Incident

Monday, July 28th, 2014

Published: July 28, 2014 (Issue # 1821)

    For the first time, a gay pride event took place without violence in Russia, Radio Liberty reported Sunday.

    Some two dozen LGBT activists rallied on Saturday on the Field of Mars in central St. Petersburg, the report said.

    Poor attendance has failed to stop attacks in the past: Four similar events held in the city in previous years, most of them unsanctioned, all saw violence by nationalists and religious conservatives.

    “The Nazis are busy with Donbass,” unnamed event-goers were cited as saying by Radio Liberty. A pro-Russian insurgency ongoing in the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine has been the focus of Russian politics in recent months.

    Russian LGBT activists have been campaigning to hold a gay pride parade since 2006, but most requests have been rejected, and in 2013, Russia banned “homosexual propaganda” targeting minors.

    An LGBT rally had been sanctioned last year for the first time in Russia in the newly created free-speech zone at the Field of Mars. The demonstrators were, however, arrested and taunted by nationalists and religious groups at that event.

    Article source: http://www.sptimesrussia.com/story/40415

    Rob Ford apologizes for Ford Fest clash between fans, LGBT activists

    Sunday, July 27th, 2014

    Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has apologized for the confrontation between his supporters and LGBT activists at Friday’s Ford Fest.

    Ford fans got into verbal confrontations with protesters at the annual festival at a park in the city’s east end. At one point, a few Ford fans grabbed the protesters’ signs, tore them up, threw them on the ground and stamped on them. An LGBT rights supporter also claimed to have been assaulted.

    Ford said he didn’t personally see the commotion because he was in a tent meeting with his supporters, but he still apologized for what happened.

    “It’s terrible things like that happen,” he said in an interview on Saturday with CP24 while attending the Taste of Toronto food festival. “I apologize and we have to move on.”

    He also thanked Ford Fest supporters, saying the event drew more than 1,500 people.

    His brother and city councillor Doug Ford also apologized for the clash, calling it “unfortunate.”

    World Pride festival controversy

    On Friday, about six demonstrators protesting what they called Ford’s homophobia turned up at Thomson Memorial Park in Scarborough, holding signs that called for the mayor’s departure from office.

    “He needs to be held accountable,” said Poe Liberado, who faced loud jeers from Ford fans.

    “His buffoonery is dangerous, his positions are dangerous and he needs to be taken seriously.”

    Ford drew heat from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community recently after he remained seated while city council gave a standing ovation to organizers of Toronto’s World Pride festival.

    He didn’t answer questions from reporters about why he didn’t stand up, but said he’s not homophobic.

    “He’s a disgrace,” said protester Kevin Speight. “He’s embarrassing our city.”

    The mayor’s supporters, however, weren’t pleased with the anti-Ford sentiment, and number of individuals got into verbal confrontations with the protesters.

    “Go home,” they yelled. “This is Ford Nation!”

    Horse incident

    The man who claimed he was assaulted declined to press charges, according to Toronto police.

    The man was escorted away from the park to prevent further issues and he left willingly, said Staff Sgt. Tony Forchione.

    About 15 to 20 police officers, including five paid duty officers, were at the event, he said.

    City officials approved a permit for the party despite concerns from Ford opponents that it is a campaign event that violates municipal rules banning campaigning in public parks.

    City spokesperson Jackie DeSouza told CBC News after Ford Fest that there were no violations of the conditions of the park permit, such as putting up election signs or distributing campaign materials.

    Mayoral candidate Sarah Thompson arrived at Ford Fest on a horse. She had arrived at city hall by horse and carriage in March when filling out nomination papers.

    Thompson was asked to remove the horse from the park because it was in violation of city bylaws, DeSouza said.

    “She complied as soon as she was warned,” DeSouza told CBC News.

    Bylaw staff will discuss the horse incident with senior staff to determine if Thomson will be fined, DeSouza said.

    Article source: http://ca.news.yahoo.com/rob-ford-apologizes-ford-fest-151626453.html

    As LGBT-owned companies come out of the closet, they find support in business community

    Sunday, July 27th, 2014

    The Mother’s Day card had been altered — some words crossed out, others added.

    Dina Proto’s teenage daughter wanted to show her mom, and her mom’s then-partner, some appreciation on the holiday, but a greeting card for her situation didn’t exist at the time.

    That was in 2005. In 2011, Proto and her wife, Dina “Dom” Poist-Proto (they married in 2006 in California), launched Teazled, an LGBT greeting card company, and now it’s the first to sell its cards in mainstream grocery stores. More than 25 Albertsons nationally sell Teazled cards.

    Teazled Greeting Cards

    Launch slideshow »

    SAME-SEX INDUSTRY

    • In September, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear a challenge to Nevada’s same-sex marriage ban, voted into law in 2002. Courts across the country over the past year have ruled similar same-sex marriage bans in other states are unconstitutional.

    • In a report released in October, the Williams Institute at UCLA noted, based on 2010 census figures, there were more than 7,000 same-sex couples in Nevada. Of those, about 20 percent are raising children under age 18 in their homes.

    • In a report released in November, Witeck Communications estimated the buying power of the U.S. adult LGBT population for 2013 would reach $813 billion, up from its estimate of $790 billion for 2012.

    “There were gay greeting cards but most were sexually explicit and didn’t speak to core family values, which is unfortunate,” said Proto, 51.

    Starting Teazled was just the beginning of Proto’s involvement in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender business community in Las Vegas. Now, she’s also founder and president of the Las Vegas chapter of the National Gay Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Proto works to encourage local LGBT-owned businesses to unify and help one another break down social and business equality barriers.

    The NGLCC’s local chapter formed this year and will get a chance to boost its profile this week when several members attend the national chamber’s business and leadership conference at Caesars Palace. The conference runs Tuesday through Friday and will offer networking and educational opportunities for more than 700 attendees.

    “We also will be reviewing the latest research about the $800 billion spending power behind LGBT consumers,” said Justin Nelson, co-founder and CEO of the national chamber.

    “Most importantly, this is a premier networking conference. Business owners go away with new leads that directly help their bottom line.”

    Proto encourages local businesses to become certified through the national chamber. To earn certification, a business must be majority-owned and operated by an LGBT person. Once certified, Proto said LGBT-owned businesses can be more recognizable to Fortune 500 companies looking to diversify their supplier base.

    “If we don’t tell them we exist, then they are going to think we don’t exist,” Proto said.

    The local NGLCC chapter has four certified businesses and several others pursuing the designation. LGBT business certification is in its infancy. Proto said national estimates peg LGBT business ownership around 1.4 million, with about 500 certified.

    Eurie Creative of Las Vegas, a graphic design and communications company founded by Victor Rodriguez, is one of the four local NGLCC-certified businesses. Rodriguez has done business with Caesars Entertainment, Cirque du Soleil and the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, but he said exposure to more companies couldn’t hurt.

    “It’s up to us to make the best of that introduction. But there’s really no guarantee,” he said.

    Ron Henderson, who owns Las Vegas eco-friendly lighting company Varaluz, is completing his certification. He said Varaluz could benefit from being able to network with new large companies. Currently, he sells to major retailers such as Lamps Plus and Ferguson, and others in North America, the Caribbean, Central America and Russia.

    “Most large businesses are relationship-based, and you can’t break in without an introduction,” he said.

    Las Vegas’ LGBT community has another chamber of commerce, the Lambda Business Association, which has about 250 members and has been around since 1991, said board member and Realtor Rob Schlegel.

    The group offers networking luncheons, meetings with guest speakers and other resources.

    “I believe being a member of Lambda gives me an advantage in business. … I reach a broad audience, gay and straight,” Schlegel said.

    Schlegel, who also ran the valley’s first gay newspaper, the Las Vegas Bugle, emphasized the importance of LGBT businesses working together and providing opportunities to work with ally businesses, small and large.

    “As gay and lesbian people, we could never get anything done without our straight allies,” he said.

    Schlegel acknowledged Lambda had some philosophical differences with NGLCC. The chambers work separately today, but he said working together would be beneficial, as the groups mirror each other in many ways. Lambda does not offer certification.

    “I do hope someday we would merge or join forces as one organization,” Schlegel said.

    Rodriguez, who is a member of both organizations and has lived in other cities where he saw similar divides, also sees some duplication of resources in the local LGBT community — for example with HIV/AIDS support and other services.

    “Socially and business-wise, there’s a little more unity needed,” he said.

    The rapid pace of legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide in the past year, as well as growing recognition and acceptance of LGBT people, positions business owners and others who market to this demographic for growth.

    Tom Kovach, interim director of the Gay Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada, said casino companies in town, for example, marketed aggressively to LGBT consumers.

    “It (marketing to the LGBT population) must be done in ways demonstrating that LGBT people are not just a target from a consumer standpoint but are people who are integrated into all aspects of our nation and the broader community,” he said.

    Laura Sussman and her partner, Wendy Kraft, have run Kraft-Sussman Funeral Services for more than five years, serving more than 1,200 families.

    Sussman, 58, said her drive to open a funeral home came from experiences Kraft as an employee and Sussman as a volunteer saw in the funeral industry.

    They often found commissioned employees driven by financial gain rather than service, allowing the emotional needs of a client to go unmet, Sussman said. The couple, mothers of three girls who will likely work in the business, wanted to offer a better experience.

    Using public-speaking opportunities, the couple also educate consumers on their rights when dealing with the funeral industry.

    “There’s been a lot of press about families going to different mortuaries and not being respected … and that’s an issue with us,” Sussman said.

    But the couple’s sexual orientation takes a back seat to business. They don’t hide it, but their focus is on providing a service.

    “I don’t flaunt it. It’s just who I am,” Sussman said.

    Rodriguez, owner of Eurie Creative, agreed.

    “For me, being a gay businessman is not something I put out on the forefront when I meet with a potential client. … The design and communication is more important to me,” he said.

    Henderson, owner of Varaluz, said he was encouraged to see a growing level of acceptance of LGBT-owned businesses, in general.

    “It’s still kind of interesting to get my mind around it being OK to be gay — to be accepted by everyone, even in the business world,” he said.

    Article source: http://vegasinc.com/business/2014/jul/27/lgbt-owned-companies-come-out-closet-they-find-sup/

    Kapederasyon wants Aquino ‘out’

    Saturday, July 26th, 2014

    LGBT RIGHTS. LGBT group Kapederasyon organizes a fashion show at Bonifacio Shrine to call for Aquino's accountability over several issues. Photo by Joel Leporada/Rappler.comLGBT RIGHTS. LGBT group Kapederasyon organizes a fashion show at Bonifacio Shrine to call for Aquino’s accountability over several issues. Photo by Joel Leporada/Rappler.com

    MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III should be ‘out’ of office, declared Kapederasyon, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) group, in a street ‘fashion show’ held on Thursday, July 24, at the Bonifacio

    The fashion show, dubbed as “Rampaglilitis: Ang Hatol ng LGBT sa Apat na Taon ni Aquino (LGBT’s verdict on Aquino’s first 4 years),” was attended by LGBT rights adocates and activist groups seeking to out the president over the DAP controversy.

    LGBT models walked the runway while wearing statements against the Aquino administration. One of them wore a top and skirt festooned with paper money to highlight the lavish lifestyles of those who enriched themselves using public funds with a golden pig’s head as headgear.

    “We are supporting any move that will (help) in his ‘coming out’ from office whether (through) impeachment, resignation or ouster,” Edward Peralta, spokesperson of Kapederasyon-Manila City Chapter, said.

    On Thursday, July 24, the third valid impeachment complaint against Aquino – this time over a military deal – was filed at the Office of the Secretary General of the House of Representatives. Militant lawmakers and groups earlier filed two impeachment raps against against Aquino over the controversial spending program known as the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

    Abandoned by Aquino

    Protesters from the LGBT community felt they were abandoned by the Aquino administration since it assumed power 4 years ago.

    “We are now breaking our silence as President Aquino remains silent and is doing nothing to improve the lives of our fellow LGBTs nationwide. We are further coming out to call on the Aquino administration’s accountability to the various issues hounding his presidency,” Peralta said.

    LGBT activists claimed Aquino has not addressed various forms of hate crimes – verbal, physical, emotional abuse, and discrimination, particularly those that happened under his presidency.

    From 1996 to 2012, at least 164 reported cases of murdered LGBTs happened in the Philippines, according to the Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch.

    Homosexuality is not illegal in the Philippines, however, there are no strong nationwide laws that specifically promote LGBT rights. Legal same-sex marriage and adoption are not also recognized.

    The country’s Anti-Discrimination Bill was first introduced in early 2000s. It included provisions on LGBT rights protection and sanctions against gender-based discrimination. After more than a decade and several versions, the bill is still spending in Congress.

    While LGBT rights advocates fight for gender equality, some lawmakers also filed bills proposing to ban same-sex marriage in the Philippines.

    Dress rehearsal

    Protesters also raised other issues like HIV/AIDS and healthcare, education budget cuts, employment and wages, and rising food prices – issues wich affect the LGBT community, they stressed.

    The LGBT activists held their ‘fashion show’ a few days before Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), describing the event as a “dress rehearsal for the bigger protest to be held on Monday, July 28.

    “The LGBT community will be marching with the entire Filipino people in calling for truth, transparency, and accountability in the government,” Kapedarasyon said in a statement. – with reports from Fritzie Rodriguez/Rappler.com

    Article source: http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/64262-lgbt-group-protest-aquino

    LGBT group ‘breaks silence’ with fashion show cum rally

    Saturday, July 26th, 2014






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    MANILA, Philippines–Members of a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) group yesterday showed their true colors in a fashion show cum political rally that made the Bonifacio Shrine beside the Manila City Hall their catwalk.

    The LGBT group Kapederasyon, supported by the militant group Bayan, staged “Rampaglilitis” (a combination of the Filipino words “rampa,” which translates to walking and strutting one’s stuff, and “paglilitis,” or trial), which had eight models-cum-protesters parading in their colorful costumes onstage while holding placards that bore their grievances against the government.

    The issues the group raised revolve around discrimination, hate crimes, HIV and healthcare, education budget cuts, jobs and wages, soaring prices of basic goods, the Disbursement Acceleration Program and the pork barrel.

    “We are now breaking our silence as President Aquino remains silent and is doing nothing to improve the lives of our fellow LGBTs nationwide,” said Edward Peralta, Kapederasyon spokesman.

    “We are further coming ‘out’ to hold Aquino accountable to the various issues hounding his presidency,” he said.

    Representing discrimination, a female model wore an all-black long-sleeve shirt and slacks ensemble and a bow tie. Her shirt was littered with discriminatory insults hurled at women, perceived as the weaker sex. A man holding a large syringe and wearing white shirts and pants littered with red ribbons was made to represent HIV and healthcare.–Nathaniel R. Melican

     



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    Article source: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/623287/lgbt-group-breaks-silence-with-fashion-show-cum-rally

    LGBT activists and crowd clash at booze-free Ford Fest

    Saturday, July 26th, 2014

    4:00: Thousands file into Thomson Memorial Park in Scarborough for the annual Ford Fest barbeque, an event put on by Mayor Rob Ford for his supporters. The event is under heavy scrutiny from bylaw enforcement officers after some Toronto councillors accused Mr. Ford of using Ford Fest as an illegal campaign event in a public space. Live music by band Skip Tracer blares as children have fun in a blow-up castle that’s been set up. Unlike past years, there’s no alcohol at the event but still tons of free food.

    Meanwhile, two endless lines have already formed. One is for Ford Nation t-shirts and flags, the other leading into a tent where Mr. Ford will meet and greet his supporters. William Scriber, who travelled from the Kingston area with his family, was first in line to meet Mr. Ford. “I think he’s colourful,” said Mr. Scriber. “I know he’s made some mistakes but who hasn’t? We all have. I don’t care about that.”

    4:45: Rob Ford’s nephew Mikey, a candidate for Ward 2 councillor, walks along the entrance line shaking hands and posing for photos with supporters.

    5:15: Mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson strolls into the park. She’s on a horse.

    “This thing got me here faster than above ground transit would,” she says before taking a lap around the area to a resounding chorus of boos. Members of Ford Nation yell at Ms. Thomson to stop campaigning, as her volunteers follow her wearing shirts reading “Sarah Thomson for mayor of Toronto.” But Ms. Thomson says she was invited to the event, as all candidates were, and isn’t there to promote herself. “I’m just here to horse around,” she quips. Her supporters applaud her. “She’s a visionary,” one says.

    Peter J. Thompson/National Post

    5:23: The entrance line, still seemingly infinite, is disappointed to learn that organizers have run out of Ford Nation t-shirts. But many are still jubilant as they await Mr. Ford’s arrival. “He’s for the ordinary people,” says Pam Mauro, who is about 20th in line and came with Ford bobbleheads in hand. “Actually, he called me on the phone…and invited me to his picnic,” she says of the standard robocall that Mr. Ford sent out. “Of course, it was a message,” Ms. Mauro clarifies.

    A dancing woman named Irene Borecky, dressed in Ford Nation garb in the middle of the line says it’s “refreshing to see someone who’s honest with the taxpayer’s money.”

    “He’s my guy,” she says, denying Mr. Ford’s personal problems are at all relevant. “Yes he has personal issues but I think the media has covered up the personal issues of so many of his predecessors… Peace, love and Ford more years.”

    6:10: Councillor Doug Ford arrives. “The mayor’s right behind me,” he assures the restless crowd.

    Peter J. Thompson/National Post

    6:13: Rob Ford drives into the park’s parking lot to cheers. He is immediately mobbed by hundreds of supporters and media seeking a glimpse of the mayor, and his security rush him into a tent where a growing lineup waits to take photos. A giant crowd forms around the tent and Ford Nation chants “Ford more years.” Mr. Scriber emerges from the frenzy. “Wow, that was fantastic,” he says of his brief meeting with the mayor.

    6:45: A woman named Mary Hynes speaks to the media, saying she came to make sure attendees didn’t have to sign in, thereby helping Mr. Ford in the election.

    “I’m glad we have a mayor in Rob Ford who thinks that by coming to somebody’s house and helping with some small problems he’s saving the whole city,” she says sarcastically. “Rob Ford makes sure we don’t spend any money on poor people, that’s a good thing.” Nearby hecklers chant: “Sorry, Ford is real! R-E-A-L.”

    Peter J. Thompson/National Post

    7:08: Mini-protests continue at Ford Fest. A group of about five LGBT activists stage a “Queeruption,” by gathering in the park with signs reading “Ford #1 hater,” “Don’t drink the Koolaid” and “homophobia kills kids.” They embrace one another and mock Ford supporters that they’re converting children to be gay.

    “They want us to leave,” says activist Poe Liberado of the mayor’s faithful. “These people do not scare me…Rob Ford wants us to be silent and needs to be held accountable for his homophobia. His latest attack on us has been the lone vote in city council against an LGBT shelter. We will not be run over.”

    7:20: Like Ms. Hynes, the Queeruption protesters face the wrath of Ford Nation. The mayor’s loyalists boo them, and tell the demonstrators to “go home.”

    “Ford’s our man! M-A-N!” they shout. “Ford saves lives. LGBT is sore losers.” As Ford supporters continue to surround the Queeruption protesters, Rob Ford’s receptionist Graham McEachern argues with some of the activists who claim the mayor’s stance against LGBT youth shelters has hurt the LGBT community. One LGBT activist says a Ford supporter shoved him in the face and speaks with police. The crew is escorted away for their own safety.

    8:20: Mayor Ford finally greets the crowd, waving to Ford Nation and promising to be back next year. “We Love Ford,” the crowd tells him. People sing and dance to the music as the evening continues.

    Peter J. Thompson/National Post
    Peter J. Thompson/National Post
    Peter J. Thompson/National Post
    THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

    Article source: http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/07/25/booze-free-ford-fest-kicks-off-with-mayoral-rival-sarah-thomson-riding-in-on-a-horse/

    LGBT Youth are Still Bullied for Being Gay, an article released today by NoBullying

    Saturday, July 26th, 2014
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    Bullied for Being Gay

    Bullied for Being Gay

    It is an alarming and heartbreaking fact that LGBT youth are still bullied for being gay.

    London, UK (PRWEB) July 25, 2014

    In today’s world, in spite of major efforts by the educational system and community groups to focus on tolerance and acceptance of LGBT people in schools, 92 percent of these LGBT teens and youth say they still experience negative messages about being lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender. The truth is, LGBT youth are still bullied for being gay in an article released today by NoBullying.

    Nine of ten LGBT teens say they are “out” to their closest friends. When asked if their friends and peers have any issues with their being homosexual, seventy-five percent say their closest friends aren’t accepting the fact they are gay.

    Unfortunately youth are twice as likely to be physically assaulted, punched, kicked or knocked around in school if they are perceived as homosexual. When it comes to homosexual bullying, 42 percent of LGBT teens live in communities that do not understand or accept their orientations. They are not tolerated or treated normally in public places.

    In fact, the National School Climate Survey has shown that verbal harassment has actually increased to 84.6 percent in the last five years, towards LGBT teens.

    Physical harassment and assaults on school property based on sexual orientation has also increased in the past few years. Offensive words are heard more often by 72.4 percent of LGBT children in public schools each day.

    Worst still, nearly two-thirds of LGBT children surveyed report feeling unsafe in their schools because of their sexual orientation.

    Reasons for these treatment barriers suggest homophobia, assumptions of heterosexuality in patients, lack of appropriate knowledge, over-caution and misunderstanding, lack of patient confidentiality, absence of LGBT specific healthcare, and lack of relevant psycho-sexual professional training.

    Teenage lesbians are two hundred percent more likely to smoke tobacco than the same group in general populations. Increased usage of alcohol and drug abuse is tracked among all groups of LGBT kids, far surpassing the general teenage population statistics.

    Bullying is unacceptable in any instance, but added to the effects of bullying of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and trans-gender children, the lack of professional mental health and medical help they need causes increased numbers of suicides, and attempts that have doubled in recent years.

    Proven student programs have deterred behaviors in other students when the peer groups stand for change and tolerance. Leadership gifted students have an unprecedented effect on the rest of the school body when they pro-actively approach student bullied for being gay issues with a plan of action for all students.

    Macartan Mulligan, Co-Founder of NoBullying.com, said, “It is an alarming and heartbreaking fact that LGBT youth are still bullied for being gay.”

    He added that parents and teachers should make a point to educate the younger generations about the sad outcome of bullying online and offline. According to Mulligan, it is quite imperative to press for more firm laws condemning all acts of bullying and harassment.

    NoBullying.com features many pages dedicated to parents, teens, teachers, health professionals as well as posts related to cyber safety and the latest news about law making concerning curbing Bullying worldwide as well as inspirational Bullying Poems and famous Bullying Quotes.

    The website regularly updates its bullying statistics and cyber bullying statistics as it is essential to understand how widespread the bullying epidemic is. It also regularly runs cyber bullying surveys and questionnaires to get recent updated statistics on everything related to cyberbullying.

    He also added that anyone suffering from bullying in any form or way can always find advice and help on the NoBullying website – but if anyone is suffering from severe bullying or cyber bullying, the best thing is to talk to someone locally – a parent, teacher or local organization that has been set up to help with specialized councilors to deal with this topic.

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    Article source: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/07/prweb12042287.htm

    Despite Progressive Rep, Part of Hollywood Is Stuck in the Dark Ages When It Comes to LGBT Roles

    Saturday, July 26th, 2014

    When seeking refuge in an air-conditioned movie theater to see a summer blockbuster, the options to watch superhero sequels, sci-fi adventures, and action flicks seem endless. Last year alone the major movie studios released 43 such movies, but only four of them contained any LGBT characters, according to a study released by GLAAD this week.

    Most LGBT characters appeared in comedies and typically only got a few minutes—or seconds—of screen time. When they were brought on, it was usually to make a joke, often at their expense.

    “In terms of mainstream Hollywood films…LGBT people are invisible,” said GLAAD national spokesman Wilson Cruz.

    Of the 102 big studio films that came out last year, only 17 included characters identified as gay, lesbian, transgender, or bisexual, according to GLAAD’s Studio Responsibility Index.

    Five researchers combed through all the 2013 films released by the biggest movie studios, including 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Sony Columbia Pictures, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, and Warner Bros. Multiple aspects of the film were considered for LGBT inclusiveness, such as how LGBT characters were used in the film (if at all) and if there was anti-LGBT humor.

    It’s not enough for a film to include a gay or lesbian character, said Cruz. This person must be integral to the narrative and not be solely defined by the character’s sexuality. One example of a “really tiresome” don’t is in Universal Pictures’ Riddick, said Cruz. This sci-fi flick starring Vin Diesel includes a “gruff” female sniper named Dahl whose dialogue makes it apparent that she’s a lesbian, according to GLAAD. In the course of the movie, Dahl is called a “whore” and then a “lesbo,” and, apparently, the combination of that sweet talk and Vin Diesel’s machismo is too magnetic for her to resist.

    “The implication is quite clear that the hyper-masculine Riddick was too much for even a professed lesbian to resist, thereby validating one of the most egregious and stereotypical ‘straight-guy’ fantasies, and treating her character with profound misogyny in the process,” according to GLAAD’s report.

    Even when there is inclusion of LGBT characters, it’s often limited to white gay men. What’s worse, transgender roles are nearly nonexistent, except for the occasional inclusion as a prostitute or a rude punch line.

    “There should be more women; there should be more people of color; there should be more trans people in films. It can only go up from here,” said Cruz.

    Although Paramount and Warner Bros. got failing grades in LGBT representation, and most others received “adequate” marks, this is only the second year GLAAD has conducted the study. As time goes on and more studios are “called out,” Cruz said, there will be motivation for improvement.

    This system seems to have worked in the television market. GLAAD can’t take credit for the popularity of shows and characters that feature LGBT characters, but it has been conducting a survey on TV’s representation of LGBT characters for the past 10 years. When the LGBT equal rights organization first started that study there was very little good news there either, said Cruz.

    Nowadays, after years of working with the television networks, there has been an outburst of profitable, LGBT-inclusive shows, ushering in a new golden age of television.

    “The most successful shows on TV are the most inclusive shows on TV,” said Cruz. “We’re saying it’s not a risk to be more diverse in your storytelling.

    He points to mainstream successful sitcoms like Modern Family as a prime example of a wildly successful show that also features realistic, meaningful LGBT characters. Forbes named the show one of TV’s top moneymakers, raking in more than $2 million per half hour in ad revenue alone—and it’s not only popular when it plays live, but is one of the most recorded shows on television.

    In addition to Cam and Mitchell—the gay couple with their adopted Vietnamese daughter—Modern Family demonstrates its diversity with Colombian star Sofia Vergara. Yes, she’s beautiful and curvy and a fast-talker—but she’s also funny and smart, and was named the top-earning actress on television in 2013, making $30 million in one year due largely to her bilingual endorsement deals.

    So although studio executives may say producing LGBT-inclusive material is a financial risk, the success of diverse shows on television says otherwise, according to Cruz. Just look at Orange Is the New Black. This award-winning Netflix sensation features female convicts of every race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, including transgender actress Laverne Cox, who plays a trans inmate.  

    This is an almost unheard of rarity in Hollywood film, and a nearly nonexistent presence in last year’s films, said Cox.

    “If you thought LGBT people were invisible—if there’s a step below LGBT people—that’s where trans were,” he said.

    But if the influential U.S. film industry can start producing more LGBT-inclusive films, it has the capacity to change the way the world looks at gay and transgender people. Multiple studies have shown that in addition to having a personal relationship with someone who is gay, the portrayal of gays and lesbians in the news, television, and film, are major influences in the way the public views the LGBT community.

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    Fake Job Applications Prove There’s Real LGBT Discrimination in Hiring

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    Original article from TakePart

    Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/despite-progressive-rep-part-hollywood-stuck-dark-ages-224930309.html

    Obama's executive order on LGBT discrimination gets mixed Catholic reaction

    Friday, July 25th, 2014

    A mixed bag may be the best way to describe the Catholic reaction to President Barack Obama’s July 21 executive order, which extends nondiscrimination protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees who work for federal contractors.

    The order expands to LGBT workers the same antidiscrimination protections that have long applied to “race, color, religion, sex or national origin.”

    Though the order did not include a religious exception, it leaves intact a 2002 order signed by President George W. Bush that gave religious groups who contract with the government the right to consult their beliefs when hiring and firing. David Gibson of Religion News Service characterized the executive order as “a split-the-baby solution.”

    In a statement issued July 21, Fr. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, said he was “pleased” with the compromise.

    “As has always been the case, Catholic Charities USA supports the rights of all to employment and abides by the hiring requirements of all federal contracts,” he wrote.

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    “Specifically, we are pleased that the religious exemption in this executive order ensures that those positions within Catholic Charities USA that are entrusted with maintaining our Catholic identity are to be held exempt.”

    Similarly pleased was Stephen Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America.

    “We all wanted to find a way to balance the rights of religious identity with the clear moral obligation to end discrimination based on orientation,” he wrote in a statement.

    Snyder and Schneck were among 14 religious leaders who had sent a letter to Obama earlier in the month asking him to include a religious exemption in the executive order that “would be comparable to what was included in the Senate version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which passed the Senate with a strong, bipartisan vote.”

    That legislation, however, has stalled in the House, and Obama cited the congressional gridlock as one reason for issuing the executive order. “I’m going to do what I can with the authority I have to act,” he said. “The rest of you, of course, need to keep putting pressure on Congress.”

    The executive order “might not be perfect,” Schneck said. “I’m sure some religious groups and some LGBT groups will be disappointed. I think, though, that this is something that religious groups can work with and there’s no denying the important progress against LGBT discrimination that it represents.”

    Other Catholics were downright enthusiastic.

    “As Catholics committed to full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, we applaud President Obama’s decision to sign an executive order protecting LGBT workers from discrimination from their employers,” read a statement from the Equally Blessed coalition.

    “As Catholics, we know firsthand why these protections are so important. On a near weekly basis, a Catholic teacher, parish employee or hospital worker is fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. … Equally Blessed will continue working and praying for the day when the Catholic hierarchy joins Catholics in the pews in celebrating our church’s rich gender and sexual diversity.”

    By contrast, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops could fairly be said to have flipped out.

    Writing on behalf of the conference, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore and Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, N.Y., said, “Today’s executive order is unprecedented and extreme and should be opposed.”

    Lori is chairman of the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, and Malone chairs the bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.

    “In the name of forbidding discrimination, this order implements discrimination,” their July 21 statement read. “With the stroke of a pen, it lends the economic power of the federal government to a deeply flawed understanding of human sexuality, to which faithful Catholics and many other people of faith will not assent. As a result, the order will exclude federal contractors precisely on the basis of their religious beliefs.”

    In a statement released Wednesday, Catholic Relief Services said it was “concerned about the serious implications of the president’s order for Catholic agencies now and in the future.”

    “As an agency of the USCCB, we will work with the bishops to promote a mutually acceptable solution,” the statement said. “We remain hopeful that compassion and goodwill will rule and that our work on behalf of the poor around the world will not be unduly affected.”

    A spokesman for CRS declined further comment.

    ACCU President Michael Galligan-Stierle said in an emailed statement that the organization “stands with both the president and the U.S. bishops — each of whom has affirmed the principles of human dignity and diversity as key values of our nation and our faith.”

    “Where differences arise is in determining how to put those principles into practice, which can be complicated. Given that, ACCU is conferring with other faith-based organizations to determine the extent to which the executive order applies to our member colleges and universities. We remain hopeful that common ground between principle and practice may be found,” the statement said.

    [Vinnie Rotondaro is NCR national correspondent. His email address is vrotondaro@ncronline.org. Catholic News Service contributed to this report.]

    Article source: http://ncronline.org/news/politics/obamas-executive-order-lgbt-discrimination-gets-mixed-catholic-reaction

    Former LGBT liaison officer sues Atlanta police for discrimination

    Friday, July 25th, 2014

    Atlanta Police Department’s former LGBT community liaison has filed a federal lawsuit claiming APD used her grand mal seizures as a pretext for offering to demote or fire her after her formal complaint against a co-worker who made derogatory comments about her sexual orientation.

    Darlene Harris, who was assigned to the chief’s office as APD’s liaison with the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, claims in the lawsuit the department discriminated against her, created a hostile work environment and violated the American with Disabilities Act by not making reasonable accommodations for her medical condition.

    APD declined to comment because there is a pending lawsuit. Harris’ attorney was unavailable for comment. Information on Harris’ current assignment in the department was not available Thursday.

    Harris had the first of two seizures in December 2009.

    When she returned to work in January 2010, Harris said in a federal lawsuit, a civilian working in the chief’s office made several derogatory comments about her sexual orientation. An internal affairs investigation found Harris’ claims about the comments to be true.

    “Why you gay? I don’t understand,” the administrative assistant said according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court on Tuesday. “You confused,” she also allegedly said. “Why can’t you settle in with a man and get the same feelings or emotions from a heterosexual relationship?” the woman reportedly said.

    On April 16, 2010, two days after Harris had her second seizure, she filed a complaint detailing the comments from the office worker.

    Then two days after Harris submitted the complaint to APD’s human resources department, she was sent home on unpaid medical leave for five months. During that time, Harris unsuccessfully asked the department to allow her to return to her job as LGBT liaison and to make accommodations for her disability.

    The lawsuit says Harris “required only one accommodation to perform the essential function of her job – she could not drive a patrol car with the lights flashing.”

    Harris returned to work in October 2010, but by then she had been replaced as LGBT liaison and re-assigned as a police officer.

    Eventually, according to the suit, APD determined she was not “fit for duty” because she could not drive a patrol car with flashing lights. APD offered her the option of a lower-paying civilian position as a dispatcher or termination.

    Harris, who secured permission to sue for discrimination from the federal Equal Employment Commission, complained of a “retaliatory hostile working environment” and said APD’s “failure to accommodate (her) was a pretext designed to cover up (APD’s) retaliatory motive.”

    Article source: http://www.ajc.com/news/news/former-lgbt-liaison-officer-sues-atlanta-police-fo/ngm64/

    GLAAD: Movies not representing LGBT

    Friday, July 25th, 2014


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    Shows such as Will amp; Grace (which Vice President Joe Biden said did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody has ever done) are just one example of the many TV programs featuring lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters. Here's a look at some of TV's most memorable LGBT characters:
    Shows such as “Will Grace” (which Vice President Joe Biden said “did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody has ever done”) are just one example of the many TV programs featuring lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters. Here’s a look at some of TV’s most memorable LGBT characters:

    Soap's Jodie Dallas is one of TV's first LGBT characters. Played by Billy Crystal, Dallas was gay but had relationships with women throughout the ABC show's four seasons, which aired during the late '70s and early '80s. Dallas also fathered a child named Wendy.
    “Soap’s” Jodie Dallas is one of TV’s first LGBT characters. Played by Billy Crystal, Dallas was gay but had relationships with women throughout the ABC show’s four seasons, which aired during the late ’70s and early ’80s. Dallas also fathered a child named Wendy.

    Modern Family's Mitchell Pritchett (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cameron Tucker (Eric Stonestreet) adopted a baby girl named Lily on the sitcom's pilot episode in 2009. The pair made plans to adopt another child during the third season of the show, which currently airs on ABC.
    “Modern Family’s” Mitchell Pritchett (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cameron Tucker (Eric Stonestreet) adopted a baby girl named Lily on the sitcom’s pilot episode in 2009. The pair made plans to adopt another child during the third season of the show, which currently airs on ABC.

    Dr. Callie Torres (Sarah Ramirez) and Dr. Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw) were married during Grey's Anatomy's seventh season in 2011. The pair also have a baby girl they share with her father, Dr. Mark Sloan (Eric Dane).Dr. Callie Torres (Sarah Ramirez) and Dr. Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw) were married during “Grey’s Anatomy’s” seventh season in 2011. The pair also have a baby girl they share with her father, Dr. Mark Sloan (Eric Dane).

    True Blood's Lafayette Reynolds, played by Nelsan Ellis, works as a cook and gay prostitute on the HBO series.“True Blood’s” Lafayette Reynolds, played by Nelsan Ellis, works as a cook and gay prostitute on the HBO series.

    On Brothers and Sisters, which aired on ABC from 2006 to 2011, Kevin Walker (Matthew Rhys) proposed to Scotty Wandell (Luke Macfarlane). The pair had two children, Olivia and Daniel. On “Brothers and Sisters,” which aired on ABC from 2006 to 2011, Kevin Walker (Matthew Rhys) proposed to Scotty Wandell (Luke Macfarlane). The pair had two children, Olivia and Daniel.

    Wilson Cruz played Rickie Vasquez, a gay 15-year-old, on My So-Called Life. Despite garnering a cult following, the show only lasted for one season on ABC.
    Wilson Cruz played Rickie Vasquez, a gay 15-year-old, on “My So-Called Life.” Despite garnering a cult following, the show only lasted for one season on ABC.

    After playing bisexual Alex Kelly on The O.C., Olivia Wilde played Dr. Remy Thirteen Hadley on Fox's House.After playing bisexual Alex Kelly on “The O.C.,” Olivia Wilde played Dr. Remy “Thirteen” Hadley on Fox’s “House.”

    Happy Endings' Max Blum, played by Adam Pally, is openly gay. His friends persuade him to come out to his parents during the show's first season. “Happy Endings’” Max Blum, played by Adam Pally, is openly gay. His friends persuade him to come out to his parents during the show’s first season.

     Greek's Calvin Owens, left, played by Paul James, originally struggled to come out to his Omega Chi fraternity brothers on the show, which aired on ABC Family from 2007 to 2011. “Greek’s” Calvin Owens, left, played by Paul James, originally struggled to come out to his Omega Chi fraternity brothers on the show, which aired on ABC Family from 2007 to 2011.

    A major storyline in Pretty Little Liars has been the discovery by Emily (Shay Mitchell) of her sexuality and her a href='http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2011/01/04/moments-later-on-pretty-little-liars/'coming out to her family/a. A major storyline in “Pretty Little Liars” has been the discovery by Emily (Shay Mitchell) of her sexuality and her coming out to her family.

    Gay characters Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer) and Blaine Anderson (Darren Criss) and lesbian character Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera) are some shining stars on Fox's Glee. The teens deal with bullies, coming out and dating on the musical dramedy.Gay characters Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer) and Blaine Anderson (Darren Criss) and lesbian character Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera) are some shining stars on Fox’s “Glee.” The teens deal with bullies, coming out and dating on the musical dramedy.

    Glee introduced its first transgendered teen character in 2012. Unique, shown here singing, is played by actor Alex Newell.“Glee” introduced its first transgendered teen character in 2012. “Unique,” shown here singing, is played by actor Alex Newell.

    Critics hailed the realistic portrayal of the relationship between David Fisher (Michael C. Hall, left) and Keith Charles (Mathew St. Patrick) on Six Feet Under.Critics hailed the realistic portrayal of the relationship between David Fisher (Michael C. Hall, left) and Keith Charles (Mathew St. Patrick) on “Six Feet Under.”

    Michael K. Williams played The Wire's Omar Little, a renowned Baltimore criminal. In March,a href='http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/18690/b-s-report-transcript-barack-obama' target='_blank' Obama told Bill Simmons/a that Little is his favorite Wire character: I mean, that guy is unbelievable, right?Michael K. Williams played “The Wire’s” Omar Little, a renowned Baltimore criminal. In March, Obama told Bill Simmons that Little is his favorite “Wire” character: “I mean, that guy is unbelievable, right?”


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    (CNN) — Although the general public may be embracing the LGBT community more these days, it doesn’t look like Hollywood is keeping up.

    That’s the message of GLAAD’s 2014 Studio Responsibility Index, which charts the “quantity, quality and diversity of images of LGBT people in films released by the seven largest motion picture studios during the 2013 calendar year.”

    This year’s study found that of the 102 films released by the major studios in 2013, only 17 included characters identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual. And of those 17, the study concluded, most were minor characters, some of which GLAAD characterized as “defamatory representations.”

    “The lack of substantial LGBT characters in mainstream film, in addition to the outdated humor and stereotypes, suggests large Hollywood studios may be doing more harm than good when it comes to worldwide understanding of the LGBT community,” GLAAD CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. “These studios have the eyes and ears of millions of audience members, and should reflect the true fabric of our society rather than feed into the hatred and prejudice against LGBT people too often seen around the globe.”

    20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, Universal Pictures and Walt Disney Studios were graded as “adequate” for their portrayal of the community, while both Warner Bros. and Paramount were rated as “failing” for “including only minor and offensive portrayals of LGBT.” Warner Bros. is owned by the parent company of CNN.

    Sony Pictures was the only studio to receive a “good” score for having several LGBT-inclusive films, including “Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.” Two films, “Riddick” and “Pain and Gain,” were singled out for having offensive portrayals.

    Films were judged by the the organization’s “Vito Russo Test,” named after the film historian and GLAAD co-founder. In order to pass the test, a film had to meet the following criteria:

    • The film must contain a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender.

    • That character must not be solely or predominantly defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity. i.e. They are made up of the same sort of unique character traits commonly used to differentiate straight characters from one another.

    • The LGBT character must be tied into the plot in such a way that their removal would have a significant effect. They are not there to simply provide colorful commentary, paint urban authenticity or (perhaps most commonly) set up a punchline. The character should “matter.”

    Of the 17 films with LGBT characters, only seven passed the Vito Russo Test.

    The study also notes that unlike films, “TV seems to have entered another golden age, where the programming is not only incredibly thematically diverse (and prolific), but is also fertile ground for creators to tell truly unique and innovative stories. Not by accident, it’s also the best place in popular culture to find complex and resonant representations of LGBT people that connect with a mainstream audience.”

    Obama bars federal contractors from LGBT discrimination



    Article source: http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/22/showbiz/movies/glaad-hollywood-movies-study/index.html

    Kyrgyzstan Has Invented a Harsher Antigay Law Than Russia

    Thursday, July 24th, 2014

    LGBT activists in Kyrgyzstan are reaching out to the international community in hopes of averting a disaster that could stem from pending legislation that would rival Russia’s draconian antigay law, according to the blog 76 Crimes.

    Russia’s notorious nationwide ban on so-called gay propaganda makes it a crime to speak, write, or demonstrate in support of LGBT people and equality, claiming such advocacy “promotes nontraditional sexual relationships” to minors. However, the proposed Krygyzstani law would go further.

    While Russian lawmakers have claimed the law is necessary to “protect children” from the dangers of homosexuality, the proposed law in the former Soviet nation of Kyrgyzstan law doesn’t even try to couch its repression in a faux concern for youth.

    If passed, the Kyrgyzstani law would criminalize any positive comments about homosexuality, “sodomy, lesbianism, or any other forms of non-traditional sexual behavior,” made through any form of electronic or print media to any person of any age.

    LGBT rights activists in Kyrgyzstan, a predominantly Muslim country of 5.6 million people, say they have “exhausted almost all domestic means to stop the bill,” reports 76 Crimes. The activists see no other choice remaining but to reach beyond their borders for support.

    Kyrgyzstani LGBT rights activists are especially eager to increase pressure on members of the country’s Supreme Council or Jogorku Kengesh (equivalent to a unicameral parliament) from non-western countries — specifically from Latin America and Asia, according to 76 Crimes.

    Yet it was a South African LGBT media outlet that appears to be the first to respond to the Kyrgyzstani activists’ plea for help. “Gay activists in the Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan are calling for international support as a proposed Putin-style anti-gay law is set to limit the rights of LGBT people,” wrote Luiz Barros in Johannesburg-based Mamba Online.

    Kyrgyzstan already has a climate of hostility toward LGBT people, noted Human Rights Watch when news of the proposed law first hit in March. At that time, Human Rights Watch called on the Jogoku Kengesh to withdraw the bill.

    “This draconian bill is blatantly discriminatory against LGBT people and would deny citizens across Kyrgyzstan their fundamental rights,” said Hugh Williamson, the group’s Europe and Central Asia director in March. The organization also urged the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe — which will consider Kyrgyzstan’s application for special “Partnership for Democracy” status with it April 8 — to “send a strong message that the bill is unacceptable, and make clear that partnership status is wholly incompatible with legislation of this kind.”

    The Kyrgyzstani activists’ plea for help from international supporters of LGBT rights was specific in its call to action, listing five ways ordinary people can help. Those methods include getting the word out on the proposed propaganda ban via social media, direct outreach to elected and appointed officials, and word-of-mouth; organizing town halls, informational lectures and protests; asking donors to review their giving policies toward Kyrgyzstan; imposing sanctions by governments and nongovernmental organizations; and advocacy for better asylum policies for LGBT people from Kyrgyzstan.

    According to the CIA’s World Fact Book, 75 percent of Kyrgyzstanis are Muslim, while another 20 percent are Russian Orthodox — while five percent are “other.” Russian Orthodoxy and much of the Islamic religious establishment have been driving forces in antigay oppression worldwide in recent decades.

    Article source: http://www.advocate.com/world/2014/07/22/kyrgyzstan-has-invented-harsher-antigay-law-russia

    Andrew Cuomo launches statewide task force to collect LGBT data

    Thursday, July 24th, 2014

    New York has launched a statewide task force to collect sexual orientation data on residents as part of a comprehensive effort to improve services for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender New Yorkers, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.

    Eight New York agencies will soon begin collecting the self-reported, voluntary data on LGBT people who use their services, Capital New Yorkreported Thursday.

    Data will be collected by the Department of Health, Department of Corrections, Office for the Aging, Office of Mental Health, Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, Office of Children and Family Services, and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, the report said.

    Mr. Cuomo said in a statement Wednesday: “By being more inclusive with how state agencies monitor the demographics of those they serve, we can address health and financial disparities, safety concerns, and a myriad of other issues that impact LGBT New Yorkers. This is another step forward for an important community in New York, and our administration will continue standing up for all New Yorkers, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

    Dan O’Connell, director of the state Health Department’s AIDS Institute, said New York’s Interagency LGBT Task Force will be the first of its kind in the country.

    “In the past, this wouldn’t have been likely to happen,” Mr. O’Connell told Capital New York. “But that conversation really has changed over time.

    “This is happening at a time when people are really rethinking LGBT rights,” he said. “LGBT rights aren’t just marriage equality. It has to do with having the same rights as everyone else.”

    The Institute of Medicine emphasized in a March 2011 report the need for collection of data on LGBT individuals. Due to current limited data collection, it can be difficult to identify the specific nature of health, discrimination or financial disparities in the LGBT community and formulate effective means of addressing them, the governor’s press release said.

    Article source: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jul/24/new-york-has-launched-statewide-task-force-collect/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS

    Op-ed: Why Malaysia Flight 17 Could Hurt LGBT Ukrainians

    Thursday, July 24th, 2014

    The devastating loss of noted Dutch AIDS researcher Joep Lange, who died in the recent attack on a Malaysia Airlines flight in the skies over Ukraine, may turn out to be just one of multiple tragedies surrounding the disaster with relevance to LGBT people and our allies.

    Whether it occurred by negligence, malice, or both, the attack has already galvanized European and American support for Ukraine in its efforts to extricate itself from Russian domination. As a result, Ukraine’s leaders in Kiev may not feel it’s imperative to respond to Western pressure to make life safer and more equal for LGBT people in the country.

    One of my editors and I were struck by a particular quote in a story I filed recently. The story was about the cancellation of an LGBT Pride march that had been scheduled to occur earlier this month in Kiev. The Pride march had to be canceled because government officials said they could not protect participants and that, as Kiev’s mayor put it, “This is not the right time for a celebration.”

    No one would say that moments of armed conflict are good times to “celebrate” LGBT Pride or any other cause. However, grown-up democratic nations should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. Put less cavalierly, democracies should be able to allow minorities to safely demonstrate for better treatment by majorities even while difficult national circumstances are at hand.

    But the quote we found so striking was not that of Mayor Vitali Klitschko. Rather, it was a quote within a formal statement issued by Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights First in reaction to the cancellation of Kiev Pride 2014. While profoundly germane to the “lost Pride” story in Kiev and the tough situation LGBT Ukrainians face moreover, the quote had an overarching relevance to the very nature of democracy.

    “For all of its talk about sharing European values the new Ukrainian government has failed a major human rights test today,” said HRF’s Brian Dooly, who is director of that organization’s Human Rights Defenders program. “The U.S. Government should make clear publicly to the Ukrainian authorities that peaceful freedom of assembly should be respected for all.” (Emphasis by editor.)

    Dooly’s words about Ukraine’s failure to ensure that the Kiev Pride march could be safely conducted — even while a de facto war with Russian separatists to the east continued to escalate — was an answer to an unposed yet perennial question: Can democratic ideals, such as freedom of expression and the right to protest, be rightfully suspended during times of crisis by nations that claim to be democracies?

    Because there is no aim of democracy more fundamental than that of protecting basic human rights, and because there are no tools more requisite to ensuring basic human rights than freedom of expression and the right to peaceably assemble, the answer must be a full-throated “no.” The right to peaceably assemble cannot be compromised if democracy is to flourish or survive.

    Some might point to periods during the American Civil War or even the years immediately following the September 11, 2001, attacks when, respectively, Presidents Abraham Lincoln and George W. Bush tampered with and hampered fundamental freedoms and rights, including habeas corpus and the right to peaceably assemble, as evidence that extraordinary measures can be taken in times of war without a democracy’s long-term survival being threatened.  

    But is that really so? Was democracy not imperiled when Lincoln suspended habeas corpus? Habeus corpus — the constitutional right to face one’s accuser in court — distinguishes truly free nations from those with some of the window dressings of democracy but none of the fixtures and furnishings. Was democracy not threatened when intelligence officials targeted the weekly meeting of a central California group that was described by Dahlia Lithwick in a 2004 New York Times op-ed as “cookie-wielding pacifists?”

    Although it appears to have pretty much survived for now, of course democracy in America was threatened by those breeches of basic rights and freedoms. What is striking about Dooly’s statement is how instantly and completely it eliminates the benefit of the doubt one might subconsciously want to afford the government in Kiev as it writhes under the boot of its behemoth neighbor to the north. He also rejects the notion that denying people the right to peaceably assemble is, by definition, a cancellation of basic liberty.

    If an erstwhile democratic nation cannot endure peaceable assembly (in this case, an LGBT Pride parade in Kiev), then that nation cannot claim democracy as its form of government. Democracies have to be able to fight wars and protect free speech at the same time.

    If the guilty party in the surface-to-air missile downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 indeed turns out to be the Russian-supported separatist rebels, it is likely the U.S. and the European Union will ramp up support for the supposedly Western values-aspiring government in Kiev of new Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko without much in the way of pressure to protect sexual and gender minorities in the country.

    The onus to keep the pressure on Ukraine to respect and protect the rights of LGBT Ukrainians now falls upon LGBT-rights activists as well as equality-minded politicians, business leaders, diplomats and even journalists. If we don’t show up, stand up and speak out loudly in defense of our LGBT brothers and sisters in Ukraine, leaders in Kiev have proven they will do as little as possible to protect and respect their rights.

    As Eleanor Roosevelt — one of the original drafters of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights — said about small assemblages of oppressed people at the 10th anniversary of the declaration’s signing, “Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”
     

    THOM SENZEE is an award-winning journalist based in Southern California. He currently serves as The Advocate‘s world news correspondent and as a Huffington Post signature blogger. Senzee is also founder and moderator of the LGBTs in the News panel series and author of the All Out Politics syndicated column.

    Article source: http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2014/07/23/op-ed-why-malaysia-flight-17-could-hurt-lgbt-ukrainians

    LGBT sim Pridefest marks Atari's equality push

    Thursday, July 24th, 2014

    Pridefest

    Atari’s
    upcoming social-sim lets you plan your own Pride parade

    ©
    Atari, Inc

    Advertisement

    Advertisement

    Video games are the most successful entertainment medium on
    Earth, but the industry still overwhelmingly focusses its efforts
    and representations on straight while males. Atari is looking to
    redress the balance slightly with Pridefest, an upcoming
    mobile game allowing players to design their own pride
    parade
    .

    Pridefest
    is shaping up to be something akin to classic sim games such as Theme
    Park
    . Players customise parade flotillas, plan
    entertainment, and keep their city happy, with new festival
    supplies unlocked as they progress. The game is also set to include
    social features letting users visit each other’s cities.

    “This has been an idea for quite a while and we believe the time
    is right to develop a game for the LGBT community,” Fred Chesnais,
    CEO of Atari Inc, tells Wired.co.uk. “This is an audience that has
    been underserved as a whole in the gaming community.”

    Actual playable LGBT characters are still few and far between in
    games, and titles addressing the themes and issues surrounding that
    community are even scarcer, rarely appearing outside of the indie
    sector. Asked about the industry’s reluctance to tackle such
    material, Chesnais says “We can only speak on behalf of our own
    games [but] this is a game we wanted to do for some time. It was
    for us a question of concept, design, and time-to-market. Our goal
    is to deliver a great game.”

    The announcement of Pridefest is Atari’s second major
    outreach to the LGBT community this year, following the company’s
    recent sponsorship and attendance of the GaymerX convention, which
    describes itself as “the gaming event for everyone, but focusing on
    supporting LGBTQ gamers and allies.”

    “Gaymer X is a convention where all kinds of people come
    together to celebrate games and discuss inclusivity, diversity and
    equality in the game industry,” Chesnais says. “Because Atari is
    developing a LGBT-themed game, we felt it would be the perfect show
    to partner with. The timing, theme and audience was a natural fit
    for both groups.”

    While Pride parades were traditionally highly politicised, with
    the first ones launching in New York,
    Chicago, and California
    in the wake of the Stonewall
    riots
    , Atari is — for better or worse — distancing
    Pridefest from the more serious elements of Pride
    marches.

    Pridefest will be a fun, social game first and
    foremost. We do not have a political component in the game,” says
    Chesnais. “Our mission is to deliver an enjoyable and engaging game
    for the LGBT community that celebrates equality and diversity.”

    Although this stance may mean the game doesn’t serve to educate
    players on the historical importance of Pride events, it’s also
    heartening that Pridefest is being seen as a game first,
    and not a tool to bludgeon home social commentary. Atari also hopes
    not to reinforce stereotypes about the gay community with the
    game’s spotlight on Pride, but rather be an inclusive mobile gaming
    experience.

    “The concept of the game is to empower players to create and
    launch their very own personalized parade in a city of their
    choosing,” Chesnais continues. “Pride parades exist all over the
    world. We are taking an established event and passionate cause and
    game-ifying it with an Atari twist. We are also putting together an
    advisory board that includes people entrenched in the LGBTQ gaming
    community to ensure we do not pander to stereotypes but to develop
    an engaging and fun game that is inclusive to all gamers.”

    Advertisement

    Advertisement

    Although Atari is yet to release any gameplay images or a launch
    date for Pridefest, it’s a positive move within the
    industry. Hopefully, the final product will live up to its
    potential.

    Article source: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2014-07/23/atari-ceo-on-lbgt-game-pridefest

    GLAAD to be gay? Hollywood studios fail the LGBT test

    Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

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    “The lack of substantial LGBT characters in mainstream film, in addition to the outdated humour and stereotypes, suggests large Hollywood studios may be doing more harm than good when it comes to worldwide understanding of the LGBT community,” said GLAAD chief Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement issued by the organisation.

    “These studios have the eyes and ears of millions of audience members, and should reflect the true fabric of our society rather than feed into the hatred and prejudice against LGBT people too often seen around the globe.”

    The GLAAD survey found only 25 LGBT characters across those 102 films, and claimed that the vast majority were white, male and in a comedy. Genre films – defined by GLAAD as action, sci-fi and fantasy – accounted for about 40 per cent of all studio releases but only four of them could find room for an LGBT character.

    Unsurprisingly, there were no LGBT characters in any family-oriented films.

    Sadly, the survey did not cast judgment on the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy This Is The End, which was arguably both the gayest and the most homophobic film of 2013.

    Though distributed by Sony, the movie was produced independently and thus fell outside the terms of “major studio releases”.

    Twitter: @karlkwin


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    Article source: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/entertainment/movies/glaad-to-be-gay-hollywood-studios-fail-the-lgbt-test-20140723-zw53t.html

    GLAAD to be gay? Hollywood studios fail the LGBT test

    Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

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    “The lack of substantial LGBT characters in mainstream film, in addition to the outdated humour and stereotypes, suggests large Hollywood studios may be doing more harm than good when it comes to worldwide understanding of the LGBT community,” said GLAAD chief Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement issued by the organisation.

    “These studios have the eyes and ears of millions of audience members, and should reflect the true fabric of our society rather than feed into the hatred and prejudice against LGBT people too often seen around the globe.”

    The GLAAD survey found only 25 LGBT characters across those 102 films, and claimed that the vast majority were white, male and in a comedy. Genre films – defined by GLAAD as action, sci-fi and fantasy – accounted for about 40 per cent of all studio releases but only four of them could find room for an LGBT character.

    Unsurprisingly, there were no LGBT characters in any family-oriented films.

    Sadly, the survey did not cast judgment on the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy This Is The End, which was arguably both the gayest and the most homophobic film of 2013.

    Though distributed by Sony, the movie was produced independently and thus fell outside the terms of “major studio releases”.

    Twitter: @karlkwin


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    Article source: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/entertainment/movies/glaad-to-be-gay-hollywood-studios-fail-the-lgbt-test-20140723-zw53t.html

    LGBT characters lacking in studio films, study finds

    Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

    After undertaking its Studio Responsibility Index (SRI) for the second year to exam the quantity and quality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender representation in mainstream Hollywood, nonprofit organization GLAAD has determined that the 2013 calendar year was a “depressing realization.”

    Stating that little changed in the year since the first report, GLAAD’s findings covered films released by 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Sony Columbia, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, and Warner Bros.

    Of 102 film releases GLAAD counted from the studios, just 17 of them (16.7%) contained characters identified as either lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. And, only seven of the 17 films passed GLAAD’s Vito Russo test. (Much like the Bechdel test that looks for works of fiction where two women talk to each other about something besides a man, this exam looks for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender characters who are not solely or predominantly defined by their orientation or gender identification and who must also be tied to the plot in a way that their removal would have a significant effect).

    According to the report, 64.7% of films featured gay male characters, 23.5% featured lesbian characters, 17.7% contained bisexual characters and 11.8% contained transgender female characters. Male LGBT characters also outnumbered female characters 64% to 36%.

    The report also notes that, for the two transgender roles found in the 2013 releases, one was a transwoman briefly shown in a jail cell, while the other was an “outright defamatory depiction” used “purely to give the audience something to laugh at.”

    “The lack of substantial LGBT characters in mainstream film, in addition to the outdated humor and stereotypes suggests large Hollywood studios may be doing more harm than good when it comes to worldwide understanding of the LGBT community,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, the org’s president and CEO. “These studios have the eyes and ears of millions of audience members, and should reflect the true fabric of our society rather than feed into the hatred and prejudice against LGBT people too often seen around the globe.”

    On the upside, GLAAD’s report determined that television was far more inclusive to LGBT characters. The org credits networks for identifying a diverse audience and providing thematically diverse content that recognizes that “American viewers are much more accepting and forward thinking than they are often given credit for.”

     

    © 2014 Variety Media, LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Business Media; Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

    Article source: http://bostonherald.com/classifieds/jobfind/2014/07/lgbt_characters_lacking_in_studio_films_study_finds

    LGBT characters lacking in studio films, study finds

    Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

    After undertaking its Studio Responsibility Index (SRI) for the second year to exam the quantity and quality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender representation in mainstream Hollywood, nonprofit organization GLAAD has determined that the 2013 calendar year was a “depressing realization.”

    Stating that little changed in the year since the first report, GLAAD’s findings covered films released by 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Sony Columbia, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, and Warner Bros.

    Of 102 film releases GLAAD counted from the studios, just 17 of them (16.7%) contained characters identified as either lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. And, only seven of the 17 films passed GLAAD’s Vito Russo test. (Much like the Bechdel test that looks for works of fiction where two women talk to each other about something besides a man, this exam looks for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender characters who are not solely or predominantly defined by their orientation or gender identification and who must also be tied to the plot in a way that their removal would have a significant effect).

    According to the report, 64.7% of films featured gay male characters, 23.5% featured lesbian characters, 17.7% contained bisexual characters and 11.8% contained transgender female characters. Male LGBT characters also outnumbered female characters 64% to 36%.

    The report also notes that, for the two transgender roles found in the 2013 releases, one was a transwoman briefly shown in a jail cell, while the other was an “outright defamatory depiction” used “purely to give the audience something to laugh at.”

    “The lack of substantial LGBT characters in mainstream film, in addition to the outdated humor and stereotypes suggests large Hollywood studios may be doing more harm than good when it comes to worldwide understanding of the LGBT community,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, the org’s president and CEO. “These studios have the eyes and ears of millions of audience members, and should reflect the true fabric of our society rather than feed into the hatred and prejudice against LGBT people too often seen around the globe.”

    On the upside, GLAAD’s report determined that television was far more inclusive to LGBT characters. The org credits networks for identifying a diverse audience and providing thematically diverse content that recognizes that “American viewers are much more accepting and forward thinking than they are often given credit for.”

     

    © 2014 Variety Media, LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Business Media; Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

    Article source: http://bostonherald.com/classifieds/jobfind/2014/07/lgbt_characters_lacking_in_studio_films_study_finds

    GLAAD: Movies don't represent LGBT

    Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

    Although the general public may be embracing the LGBT community more these days, it doesn’t look like Hollywood is keeping up.

    That’s the message of GLAAD’s 2014 Studio Responsibility Index, which charts the “quantity, quality and diversity of images of LGBT people in films released by the seven largest motion picture studios during the 2013 calendar year.”

    This year’s study found that of the 102 films released by the major studios in 2013, only 17 included characters identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual. And of those 17, the study concluded, most were minor characters, some of which GLAAD characterized as “defamatory representations.”

    “The lack of substantial LGBT characters in mainstream film, in addition to the outdated humor and stereotypes, suggests large Hollywood studios may be doing more harm than good when it comes to worldwide understanding of the LGBT community,” GLAAD CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. “These studios have the eyes and ears of millions of audience members, and should reflect the true fabric of our society rather than feed into the hatred and prejudice against LGBT people too often seen around the globe.”

    20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, Universal Pictures and Walt Disney Studios were graded as “adequate” for their portrayal of the community, while both Warner Bros. and Paramount were rated as “failing” for “including only minor and offensive portrayals of LGBT.” Warner Bros. is owned by the parent company of CNN.

    Sony Pictures was the only studio to receive a “good” score for having several LGBT-inclusive films, including “Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.” Two films, “Riddick” and “Pain and Gain,” were singled out for having offensive portrayals.

    Films were judged by the the organization’s “Vito Russo Test,” named after the film historian and GLAAD co-founder. In order to pass the test, a film had to meet the following criteria:

    • The film must contain a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender.

    • That character must not be solely or predominantly defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity. i.e. They are made up of the same sort of unique character traits commonly used to differentiate straight characters from one another.

    • The LGBT character must be tied into the plot in such a way that their removal would have a significant effect. They are not there to simply provide colorful commentary, paint urban authenticity or (perhaps most commonly) set up a punchline. The character should “matter.”

    Of the 17 films with LGBT characters, only seven passed the Vito Russo Test.

    The study also notes that unlike films, “TV seems to have entered another golden age, where the programming is not only incredibly thematically diverse (and prolific), but is also fertile ground for creators to tell truly unique and innovative stories. Not by accident, it’s also the best place in popular culture to find complex and resonant representations of LGBT people that connect with a mainstream audience.”

    Article source: http://www.wgal.com/entertainment/glaad-movies-dont-represent-lgbt/27092340

    GLAAD: Movies don't represent LGBT

    Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

    Although the general public may be embracing the LGBT community more these days, it doesn’t look like Hollywood is keeping up.

    That’s the message of GLAAD’s 2014 Studio Responsibility Index, which charts the “quantity, quality and diversity of images of LGBT people in films released by the seven largest motion picture studios during the 2013 calendar year.”

    This year’s study found that of the 102 films released by the major studios in 2013, only 17 included characters identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual. And of those 17, the study concluded, most were minor characters, some of which GLAAD characterized as “defamatory representations.”

    “The lack of substantial LGBT characters in mainstream film, in addition to the outdated humor and stereotypes, suggests large Hollywood studios may be doing more harm than good when it comes to worldwide understanding of the LGBT community,” GLAAD CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. “These studios have the eyes and ears of millions of audience members, and should reflect the true fabric of our society rather than feed into the hatred and prejudice against LGBT people too often seen around the globe.”

    20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, Universal Pictures and Walt Disney Studios were graded as “adequate” for their portrayal of the community, while both Warner Bros. and Paramount were rated as “failing” for “including only minor and offensive portrayals of LGBT.” Warner Bros. is owned by the parent company of CNN.

    Sony Pictures was the only studio to receive a “good” score for having several LGBT-inclusive films, including “Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.” Two films, “Riddick” and “Pain and Gain,” were singled out for having offensive portrayals.

    Films were judged by the the organization’s “Vito Russo Test,” named after the film historian and GLAAD co-founder. In order to pass the test, a film had to meet the following criteria:

    • The film must contain a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender.

    • That character must not be solely or predominantly defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity. i.e. They are made up of the same sort of unique character traits commonly used to differentiate straight characters from one another.

    • The LGBT character must be tied into the plot in such a way that their removal would have a significant effect. They are not there to simply provide colorful commentary, paint urban authenticity or (perhaps most commonly) set up a punchline. The character should “matter.”

    Of the 17 films with LGBT characters, only seven passed the Vito Russo Test.

    The study also notes that unlike films, “TV seems to have entered another golden age, where the programming is not only incredibly thematically diverse (and prolific), but is also fertile ground for creators to tell truly unique and innovative stories. Not by accident, it’s also the best place in popular culture to find complex and resonant representations of LGBT people that connect with a mainstream audience.”

    Article source: http://www.wgal.com/entertainment/glaad-movies-dont-represent-lgbt/27092340

    GLAAD report finds both low and low quality LGBT representation in studio films

    Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

    In its second annual study of LGBT representation in studio films, GLAAD found that major studios have continued to underrepresent and misrepresent lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters. The advocacy organization found that, of the 102 releases from 7 major studios, only 17 included characters that identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual—adding that a majority of these characters were minor roles or cameos, and that many representations were “outright defamatory.”

    GLAAD took seven major studios to task in its Studio Responsibility Index (SRI), giving both Paramount and Warner Brothers “failing” grades for including only minor and offensive portrayals of LGBT people in their 2013 releases. 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, Universal Pictures, and Walt Disney Studios were rated as “adequate,” while Sony Columbia was the first and only studio to receive a “good” score.

    Some other takeaways:

    —Gay men are disproportionately represented: 64.7 percent of inclusive films included gay male characters. 23.5 percent included lesbian characters, and 17.7 percent contained bisexual characters. Male LGBT characters outnumbered female characters 64 percent to 36 percent.

    —White characters are  disproportionately represented: 76 percent of the characters counted were white, 12 percent were Black/African American, 8 percent were Asian/Pacific Islander, and 1 percent were Latino.

    —Transgender characters received the least (and most offensive) representation: GLAAD only counted two transgender characters in 2013 studio releases. One was a transwoman briefly depicted in a jail cell in Grudge Match; the other was a “defamatory depiction” in the Lionsgate comedy Instructions Not Included.

    —When LGBT characters appear, they tend to be defined by their sexual orientation. GLAAD uses a “Vito Russo Test,” an LGBT version of the feminist Bechdel Test, which requires a film to include a character that fulfills certain criteria (including not being defined by their sexuality). Only 7 of the 17 films managed to pass.

    Mortal Instruments: City of Bones got the biggest praise, while Pain Gain and The Hangover: Part III received the most scorn. Mortal Instruments, which includes a gay and a bisexual character, was the only studio film tracked that was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award. Pain Gain was condemned for including a gay character (a priest who’s beaten up by a troubled character) “whose sole purpose is to act like a lecherous pervert for a few seconds,” while the third Hangover film was criticized for continuing to use the character Chow’s (Ken Jeong) attraction to men for punchlines. “With LGBT characters so incredibly rare in films of the Hangover series’ reach and popularity, it’s disheartening that this offensively constructed character also stands out as one of the most significant among the 2013 releases,” GLAAD wrote in the study.

    GLAAD plans to release its 8th annual Network Responsibility Index (NRI), a survey of representation on television, in the coming weeks.

    Article source: http://insidemovies.ew.com/2014/07/22/glaad-studio-responsibility-index/

    Freedom to Work Wins Victory in LGBT Rights Action Against Exxon

    Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

    WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

    In an important victory for Freedom to Work, a non-profit group committed to banning workplace discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) Americans, the Illinois Human Rights Commission has upheld Freedom to Work’s right to pursue its groundbreaking legal action against Exxon Mobil’s sexual orientation discrimination. This opens the way for a full investigation into the sexual orientation discrimination charges against the mammoth international oil and gas corporation, according to Freedom to Work attorney Peter Romer-Friedman, of Cohen Milstein Sellers Toll PLLC.

    In May 2013, Freedom to Work filed a legal action against Exxon after paired resume testing revealed that Exxon gave substantial preference to a heterosexual job applicant over a more qualified LGBT applicant in Illinois.

    “We are relieved but not surprised by the state agency’s decision that Freedom to Work and other civil rights groups have the right to challenge unlawful discrimination, including Exxon’s sexual orientation discrimination,” said Romer-Friedman. “This decision means that Exxon will have to answer tough questions about why it treated a well-qualified LGBT applicant far worse than a straight applicant who had lesser qualifications. The decision also paves the way for other non-profit groups to enforce civil rights laws.”

    Earlier this year, the Illinois Human Rights Department dismissed Freedom to Work’s charge against Exxon based on its erroneous view that Freedom to Work does not have standing as an organization to challenge Exxon’s discrimination under the Illinois Human Rights Act. The dismissal, while not related to the merits of the case, was troubling because many organizations, such as Freedom to Work, assist in the enforcement of civil rights laws through testing and the pursuit of discrimination charges based on organizational standing. Thus, it was important to have the Illinois Human Rights Commission, which hears appeals from the lower agency, resolve the issue and find that organizations do have standing to file discrimination charges.

    The decision means Illinois will now investigate the merits of Freedom to Work’s charge and determine whether Exxon broke the law when it aggressively pursued a non-LGBT applicant but refused to even contact a LGBT applicant who was very similar but had better qualifications in terms of experience, education, and skills than the other candidate. An Illinois Human Rights Department spokesperson had previously commented on the merits of the case, telling a national news publication, “The facts as alleged would constitute a violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act.”

    Freedom to Work’s legal action calls for Exxon to amend its workplace policies to specifically include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” along with other protected categories such as race, sex and religion. Exxon management has long fought this change, and just last month Exxon rejected an LGBT shareholder resolution for the 17th consecutive year.

    The reinstatement of Freedom to Work’s charge came in response to an appeal filed on May 9, 2014 with the Commission, arguing that the Illinois Human Rights Act authorizes non-profit groups to file discrimination charges with the Illinois Human Rights Department, based on the text, purpose, and history of the law.

    “We always knew that Exxon would have to be dragged kicking and screaming into adopting workplace policies that treat LGBT employees with basic fairness,” said Freedom to Work Founder Tico Almeida. “There are now two big reasons that 2014 might finally be the year Exxon makes these long overdue changes. First, Freedom to Work’s legal victory means Exxon will have to continue wasting its own shareholders’ dollars on an expensive legal defense when it could settle this case by simply copying and pasting the LGBT workplace policies of their competitors at oil companies Chevron or BP. Second, President Obama’s newly signed executive order will go into effect in early 2015 and require Exxon to amend its LGBT policies if Exxon wants to continue profiting from hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded contracts. This oil giant has a lot to lose here, and it should be clear that the clock is ticking and it’s now time to update Exxon’s policies to give LGBT Americans a fair shot on the job.”

    Freedom to Work is represented in the legal action by Christine E. Webber and Peter Romer-Friedman of Cohen Milstein Sellers Toll PLLC, a public interest and class action law firm based in Washington, DC.

    This action against Exxon highlights the harmful discrimination that LGBT Americans face at companies that profit from taxpayer-funded contracts, and Freedom to Work has been a leading national advocate urging President Barack Obama to sign an executive order requiring LGBT workplace protections at federal contractors like Exxon.

    For more information about the action against Exxon Mobil, visit, http://www.cohenmilstein.com/cases/309/exxon-mobil-sexual-orientation-discrimination

    Editor’s Note: Illinois Human Rights Commission Order Available

    About Freedom to Work

    Freedom to Work is a national nonprofit organization committed to banning workplace harassment and career discrimination against lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender Americans through public education, policy analysis and legal work. Freedom to Work’s online petition to President Obama has collected almost 200,000 signatures. Freedom to Work has also co-authored research showing that more than $300 billion of taxpayer dollars each year are sent to perform federal contracts in states without LGBT protections, and federal contractors with inadequate LGBT protections have shown a troubling pattern of discrimination against well qualified LGBT applications.

    For more information about the legal action, visit, http://www.cohenmilstein.com/cases/309/exxon-mobil-sexual-orientation-discrimination. For information about Freedom to Work, visit http://www.freedomtowork.org/.

    About Cohen Milstein Sellers Toll PLLC

    Founded in 1969, Cohen Milstein Sellers Toll PLLC is a national leader in plaintiff class action lawsuits and litigation. As one of the premier firms in the country handling major complex cases, Cohen Milstein, with 80 attorneys, has offices in Washington, D.C., New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. For more information, visit http://www.cohenmilstein.com or call (202) 408-4600.

    Article source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/freedom-wins-victory-lgbt-rights-221500939.html

    GLAAD: Movies don't represent LGBT community well

    Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014


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    Shows such as Will amp; Grace (which Vice President Joe Biden said did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody has ever done) are just one example of the many TV programs featuring lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters. Here's a look at some of TV's most memorable LGBT characters:
    Shows such as “Will Grace” (which Vice President Joe Biden said “did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody has ever done”) are just one example of the many TV programs featuring lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters. Here’s a look at some of TV’s most memorable LGBT characters:

    Soap's Jodie Dallas is one of TV's first LGBT characters. Played by Billy Crystal, Dallas was gay but had relationships with women throughout the ABC show's four seasons, which aired during the late '70s and early '80s. Dallas also fathered a child named Wendy.
    “Soap’s” Jodie Dallas is one of TV’s first LGBT characters. Played by Billy Crystal, Dallas was gay but had relationships with women throughout the ABC show’s four seasons, which aired during the late ’70s and early ’80s. Dallas also fathered a child named Wendy.

    Modern Family's Mitchell Pritchett (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cameron Tucker (Eric Stonestreet) adopted a baby girl named Lily on the sitcom's pilot episode in 2009. The pair made plans to adopt another child during the third season of the show, which currently airs on ABC.
    “Modern Family’s” Mitchell Pritchett (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cameron Tucker (Eric Stonestreet) adopted a baby girl named Lily on the sitcom’s pilot episode in 2009. The pair made plans to adopt another child during the third season of the show, which currently airs on ABC.

    Dr. Callie Torres (Sarah Ramirez) and Dr. Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw) were married during Grey's Anatomy's seventh season in 2011. The pair also have a baby girl they share with her father, Dr. Mark Sloan (Eric Dane).Dr. Callie Torres (Sarah Ramirez) and Dr. Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw) were married during “Grey’s Anatomy’s” seventh season in 2011. The pair also have a baby girl they share with her father, Dr. Mark Sloan (Eric Dane).

    True Blood's Lafayette Reynolds, played by Nelsan Ellis, works as a cook and gay prostitute on the HBO series.“True Blood’s” Lafayette Reynolds, played by Nelsan Ellis, works as a cook and gay prostitute on the HBO series.

    On Brothers and Sisters, which aired on ABC from 2006 to 2011, Kevin Walker (Matthew Rhys) proposed to Scotty Wandell (Luke Macfarlane). The pair had two children, Olivia and Daniel. On “Brothers and Sisters,” which aired on ABC from 2006 to 2011, Kevin Walker (Matthew Rhys) proposed to Scotty Wandell (Luke Macfarlane). The pair had two children, Olivia and Daniel.

    Wilson Cruz played Rickie Vasquez, a gay 15-year-old, on My So-Called Life. Despite garnering a cult following, the show only lasted for one season on ABC.
    Wilson Cruz played Rickie Vasquez, a gay 15-year-old, on “My So-Called Life.” Despite garnering a cult following, the show only lasted for one season on ABC.

    After playing bisexual Alex Kelly on The O.C., Olivia Wilde played Dr. Remy Thirteen Hadley on Fox's House.After playing bisexual Alex Kelly on “The O.C.,” Olivia Wilde played Dr. Remy “Thirteen” Hadley on Fox’s “House.”

    Happy Endings' Max Blum, played by Adam Pally, is openly gay. His friends persuade him to come out to his parents during the show's first season. “Happy Endings’” Max Blum, played by Adam Pally, is openly gay. His friends persuade him to come out to his parents during the show’s first season.

     Greek's Calvin Owens, left, played by Paul James, originally struggled to come out to his Omega Chi fraternity brothers on the show, which aired on ABC Family from 2007 to 2011. “Greek’s” Calvin Owens, left, played by Paul James, originally struggled to come out to his Omega Chi fraternity brothers on the show, which aired on ABC Family from 2007 to 2011.

    A major storyline in Pretty Little Liars has been the discovery by Emily (Shay Mitchell) of her sexuality and her a href='http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2011/01/04/moments-later-on-pretty-little-liars/'coming out to her family/a. A major storyline in “Pretty Little Liars” has been the discovery by Emily (Shay Mitchell) of her sexuality and her coming out to her family.

    Gay characters Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer) and Blaine Anderson (Darren Criss) and lesbian character Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera) are some shining stars on Fox's Glee. The teens deal with bullies, coming out and dating on the musical dramedy.Gay characters Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer) and Blaine Anderson (Darren Criss) and lesbian character Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera) are some shining stars on Fox’s “Glee.” The teens deal with bullies, coming out and dating on the musical dramedy.

    Glee introduced its first transgendered teen character in 2012. Unique, shown here singing, is played by actor Alex Newell.“Glee” introduced its first transgendered teen character in 2012. “Unique,” shown here singing, is played by actor Alex Newell.

    Critics hailed the realistic portrayal of the relationship between David Fisher (Michael C. Hall, left) and Keith Charles (Mathew St. Patrick) on Six Feet Under.Critics hailed the realistic portrayal of the relationship between David Fisher (Michael C. Hall, left) and Keith Charles (Mathew St. Patrick) on “Six Feet Under.”

    Michael K. Williams played The Wire's Omar Little, a renowned Baltimore criminal. In March,a href='http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/18690/b-s-report-transcript-barack-obama' target='_blank' Obama told Bill Simmons/a that Little is his favorite Wire character: I mean, that guy is unbelievable, right?Michael K. Williams played “The Wire’s” Omar Little, a renowned Baltimore criminal. In March, Obama told Bill Simmons that Little is his favorite “Wire” character: “I mean, that guy is unbelievable, right?”


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    (CNN) — Although the general public may be embracing the LGBT community more these days, it doesn’t look like Hollywood is keeping up.

    That’s the message of GLAAD’s 2014 Studio Responsibility Index, which charts the “quantity, quality and diversity of images of LGBT people in films released by the seven largest motion picture studios during the 2013 calendar year.”

    This year’s study found that of the 102 films released by the major studios in 2013, only 17 included characters identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual. And of those 17, the study concluded, most were minor characters, some of which GLAAD characterized as “defamatory representations.”

    “The lack of substantial LGBT characters in mainstream film, in addition to the outdated humor and stereotypes, suggests large Hollywood studios may be doing more harm than good when it comes to worldwide understanding of the LGBT community,” GLAAD CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. “These studios have the eyes and ears of millions of audience members, and should reflect the true fabric of our society rather than feed into the hatred and prejudice against LGBT people too often seen around the globe.”

    20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, Universal Pictures and Walt Disney Studios were graded as “adequate” for their portrayal of the community, while both Warner Bros. and Paramount were rated as “failing” for “including only minor and offensive portrayals of LGBT.” Warner Bros. is owned by the parent company of CNN.

    Sony Pictures was the only studio to receive a “good” score for having several LGBT-inclusive films, including “Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.” Two films, “Riddick” and “Pain and Gain,” were singled out for having offensive portrayals.

    Films were judged by the the organization’s “Vito Russo Test,” named after the film historian and GLAAD co-founder. In order to pass the test, a film had to meet the following criteria:

    • The film must contain a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender.

    • That character must not be solely or predominantly defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity. i.e. They are made up of the same sort of unique character traits commonly used to differentiate straight characters from one another.

    • The LGBT character must be tied into the plot in such a way that their removal would have a significant effect. They are not there to simply provide colorful commentary, paint urban authenticity or (perhaps most commonly) set up a punchline. The character should “matter.”

    Of the 17 films with LGBT characters, only seven passed the Vito Russo Test.

    The study also notes that unlike films, “TV seems to have entered another golden age, where the programming is not only incredibly thematically diverse (and prolific), but is also fertile ground for creators to tell truly unique and innovative stories. Not by accident, it’s also the best place in popular culture to find complex and resonant representations of LGBT people that connect with a mainstream audience.”

    Obama bars federal contractors from LGBT discrimination



    Article source: http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/22/showbiz/movies/glaad-hollywood-movies-study/index.html

    GLAAD Report Says Many LGBT Characters in Studio Films Were Defamatory Portrayals

    Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

    The major movie studios are largely failing to show substantial LGBT characters, GLAAD’s annual Studio Responsibility Index reveals. The report found that only 17 of 102 major studio releases in 2013 included characters identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual, the majority of which were minor roles, and many were defamatory representations.

    This is the second year GLAAD is releasing its studio index, which maps the quantity, quality and diversity of images of LGBT people in films released by the seven largest motion picture studios during the calendar year.

    PHOTOS ‘Duck Dynasty’s’ Phil Robertson and Other Stars Who’ve Made Anti-Gay Remarks

    “The lack of substantial LGBT characters in mainstream film, in addition to the outdated humor and stereotypes, suggests large Hollywood studios may be doing more harm than good when it comes to worldwide understanding of the LGBT community,” GLAAD CEO and president Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. “These studios have the eyes and ears of millions of audience members and should reflect the true fabric of our society rather than feed into the hatred and prejudice against LGBT people too often seen around the globe.”

    With respect to specific studios, GLAAD issued failing grades to Paramount and Warner Bros. for only including minor and offensive portrayals of LGBT people. Lionsgate, 20th Century Fox, Universal and Walt Disney Studios received “adequate” grades, while Sony Pictures was the first and only studio to receive a “good” score for several LGBT-inclusive films, including Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. No studio has received a grade of “excellent.” GLAAD also singled out Pain and Gain and Riddick for having offensive portrayals of LGBT characters.

    While the number of studio releases with LGBT characters is up from last year’s showing of 14, last year’s Studio Responsibility Index didn’t include Lionsgate, which released three inclusive films in 2013.

    PHOTOS Straight Actors in Gay Roles: From River Phoenix to Michael Douglas

    GLAAD also found that LGBT characters were most often found in comedies, yet the organization noted that studios seem to devote most of their resources to genre films like comic-book adaptations and action franchises, where LGBT characters were rarely represented. Only four genre films of the 43 released last year contained LGBT characters. Furthermore, GLAAD found there were no LGBT characters in any animated or family-oriented films or documentaries released by the seven studios tracked.

    More than half of the 17 inclusive films released in 2013 included gay male characters, with another 23.5 percent featuring lesbian characters. Male LGBT characters outnumbered female ones by 64 to 36 percent.

    GLAAD also found that less than half of the studios’ 17 LGBT-friendly films managed to pass the “Vito Russo Test” it devised, which represents a standard GLAAD would like to see a greater number of mainstream Hollywood films reach.

    GLAAD’s report urges studios to feature more substantial LGBT roles, make genre films more diverse and try to better represent transgender people.

    PHOTOS Gay Marriage, or Not, in Global Cinema

    “There were no transgender characters in the 2012 releases GLAAD tracked, but the two found in the 2013 releases were hardly an improvement,” GLAAD said in its press release announcing this year’s report. “One was a transwoman very briefly depicted in a jail cell, while the other was an outright defamatory depiction included purely to give the audience something to laugh at. Media representation of transgender people has long remained decades behind that of gay and lesbian people, and images like these continue to marginalize the community. However, recent media attention around trans issues and people like actress Laverne Cox demonstrates that times are quickly changing, and Hollywood should as well.”

    The release added: “Anti-gay slurs are less common in film now than they were 20 years ago, but they are by no means extinct, and some are still used by characters the audience is meant to be rooting for. Perhaps even more prevalent are anti-transgender slurs, which in 2013 were used by main characters in films like Anchorman 2 and Identity Thief for no reason other than to make a joke. With few exceptions, these words should be left on the cutting room floor.”

    The full report can be viewed here.

    Article source: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/glaad-report-says-lgbt-characters-720198

    Obama bars federal contractors from LGBT discrimination

    Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

    Washington (CNN) — President Barack Obama signed an executive order Monday banning federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

    Despite calls from religious leaders, faith-based groups will not be exempt.

    “Thanks to your passion and advocacy and the irrefutable rightness of your cause, our government — a government of the people, by the people and for the people — will become just a little bit fairer,” Obama said.

    Gay federal workers are already protected from workplace discrimination by a Clinton-era order and Obama’s action extended the protections to shield workers from gender identity-based discrimination.

    Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which joined a coalition of nearly 100 civil rights and LGBT groups urging Obama to reject calls for a religious exemption, thanked him for taking action. It said he made the “right call” for not tagging any religious exemptions to the document.

    “Faith-based groups that tap the public purse should play by the same rules as everyone else and not expect special treatment,” the group’s executive director, Rev. Barry Lynn, said in a statement. “No forms of discrimination should be supported with the taxpayer dime, period.”

    Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, was in the room as Obama signed the order and said it was an emotional moment.


    Obama tells LGBT: ‘We’ve stood resolute’


    Faith leaders want more exemptions

    “There are now millions of LGBT people and their families who are just going to sleep a little bit easier tonight knowing that they can’t be fired from their jobs as federal contractors,” she said.

    During the ceremony, which comes 50 years after President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Obama also recalled the history of executive actions and legislation to ban discrimination in the workplace and “make sure we the people applies to all the people.”

    Senate passes LGBT anti-discrimination bill

    But Obama’s signature on Monday did not touch a 2002 executive order signed by President George W. Bush that allows religious groups to weigh prospective employees’ faith in hiring decisions.

    This gave some opponents of the order hope that they could continue to consider sexual orientation in hiring decisions.

    One of those opponents, Stephen Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America, said he was disappointed by Obama’s decision regarding the religious exemption. But he suggested that religious groups could still rely on the 2002 order.

    “I believe the administration has left open a path that religious groups can work with,” Schneck said.

    Russell Moore, president of the Ethics Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, had stronger words for Obama and worried that the Bush-era executive order would leave out some faith-based groups.

    “While we don’t know the full implications of this executive order, I am disappointed that this administration persistently violates the freedom of conscience for religious organizations that provide necessary relief for the poor and endangered,” Moore said. “The ones hurt will be the most vulnerable in our society.”

    Obama’s executive action extends protections against sexual-based discrimination to employees of federal contractors operating outside of the 21 states and the District of Columbia that enacted their own non-discrimination legislation.

    Obama also noted that a majority of Fortune 500 companies have policies in place against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

    The action is not the first time Obama has used his presidential powers to benefit the LGBT community. In 2010, he signed an order extending benefits to same-sex partners of executive branch employees already provided to opposite-sex partners.

    But on the federal legislative level, LGBT groups have struggled to enact similar legislation.

    The Senate passed a bill barring LGBT discrimination in the fall. But the measure, which exempted religious groups from the would-be-law, did not make it to the House floor where Republicans opposed it.

    And attendees greeted Obama’s call to continue applying pressure to “resolve this problem once and for all” with one resounding word: “Amen.”

    Supreme Court rules against Obama in contraception case



    Article source: http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/21/politics/obama-lgbt-discrimination-executive-order/index.html

    LGBT ministries' support network, inclusive communities provide hope, joy

    Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

    Erma Durkin
    Age:
    84
    Lives in: Glen Arm, Md.

    Sr. Camille: Erma, I first learned of you through Frank DeBernardo. What brought you together?

    Durkin: I became acquainted with Frank by way of my interest in the work done by Sr. Jeannine Gramick as far back as the ’70s. Also, I’ve enjoyed a number of retreats offered by New Ways Ministry for LGBT people, their parents and friends. Because one of my sons is gay, my concern for him brought me into the enjoyable company of wonderful men and women who, as parents or friends of lesbian or gay children, were in active ministry to LGBT members of their parish. Frank is a fine gentleman and a capable leader. He’s always present as master of ceremonies introducing the retreat director and keeping the participants moving in the right direction. I made an effort to participate in New Ways Ministry’s many consciousness-raising events. In March of 2011, I went on its pilgrimage to northern Italy with others committed to LGBT people.

    Please tell us about your birth family.

    I was the first child of Edward and Anna (Turek) Hoffman, born Sept. 16, 1929, in the midst of our country’s deep economic depression. My father, an American-born son of an immigrant Germany family, worked as a pipe fitter in Baltimore. Mother was one of many children born in the United States to Anna and Anton Turek, immigrants from Bohemia. My grandmother, Anna, lived with us until she died when I was in the third grade. I have fond memories of her.

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    Our life in Baltimore revolved around the Bohemian parish of St. Wenceslaus. I went to elementary school there. Tuition was eleven cents a week; daily Mass was part of my education. My dear Bubishka walked to an earlier Mass every morning. She spoke very little English but had no difficulty communicating. My heart is moved by the stories my mother told me about her as I grew older.

    What kind of stories?

    She was a veritable priest, counselor and consoler to many of the Bohemian women living in the neighborhood. If someone in the neighborhood was near death but no longer was a practicing Catholic, a family member would get my Bubishka to come to the house and pray over her.

    Did you have any siblings?

    My sister, Anna, was born when I was 2 years old. Though my mother gave birth to only two girls, she helped raise the five children born to her brother, Joseph, when his wife died, leaving their three boys and two girls without a mother. Fortunately, they lived nearby, enabling my mother to teach the oldest girl, about 12 years old, how to care for the family. Mother was readily available if needed while my uncle was at work.

    As the years passed, my sister and I came to regard these five children more as sisters and brothers than cousins. And these cousins loved my mother very much. Our home was a welcoming place. Anyone who dropped by was greeted warmly and offered a treat freshly baked in the big iron coal stove that heated the entire house in the winter.

    Mother always lent a sympathetic ear to her visitors and would share the wisdom she had gained through experience. Mother was 97 years old when she died, beloved by everyone who knew her.

    Did you have a specific hero or heroine?

    My dad was my hero. He was tall, muscular and quiet. From my earliest years I remember feeling so proud as we walked through Clifton Park on a Sunday, often carrying a portion of Mother’s Sunday dinner to Grandmother Hoffman. Dad’s mother was bedridden, and her stroke made understanding her speech difficult. Grandmother Hoffman was not Catholic, but her faith was evident in her faithful attention to Sunday’s radio broadcast of the Gospel Tabernacle.

    My dad loved the outdoors and, in particular, fishing. When I was 4, he began to teach me how to fish. Most of my childhood memories are about our great catches or our failures. With very few words between us, we listened to the calls of birds, watched water snakes crossing from shore to shore, admired the dragonflies resting on our fishing poles and swayed with the lapping of the waves on the sides of our rowboat.

    As a youngster, my concept of God — all loving, all good, always watching over me — was made concrete to me in the person of my father, who would go to any length to protect me, to care for me, and who rejoiced in my happiness. Even as a feminist, the word “father” has only a warm and safe sound to it for me when reciting the Our Father.

    How did you meet your husband?

    During the 20 years I lived and worked within a religious community, my parents moved to a new neighborhood. Consequently, when I returned to live with them once more, everything and everyone was new to me. One day, we were seated at the dining room table when a clanging noise claimed our attention. Our window faced the backyard of a house on the next street. My mother knew the noisemaker.

    “That’s Dick Durkin, taking the trash out. He helps his mother clean up after dinner every day.”

    Then my father, who never wasted words, said, “Yeah, he’s one good guy.” I could tell that my dad liked Dick Durkin.

    But it was about a year before I actually met Dick. I had been helping my parents during the day and taking evening courses at Loyola College. On a lovely summer evening, while I was painting our back fence, I heard my mother ask, “Erma, have you met Dick?” We exchanged a polite hello. It was weeks before I decided to find a women’s bowling league. I’d heard that Dick enjoyed bowling, and so I asked him if he had the information I wanted. He didn’t, but asked if I’d like to bowl with him.

    Well, going bowling led to going to the movies, which led to going to the Washington Zoo. It was at the zoo that Dick surprised me with a proposal of marriage. It amuses me now when I think about it. He seemed rather pensive during our outing, not enjoying the animals as much as me. Then, as we were getting into the car to drive from the bears’ area to the big cats’ area, Dick surprised me by saying: “Erma, I’ve been thinking, we’re not getting any younger, and I would like to have a family, would you consider marrying me?” Then he pled his case: He had a good job with the Pennsylvania Railroad as an electrician; he had already purchased land in Baltimore County 10 years ago in anticipation of building a house there when he’d marry. Our families were practicing Catholics and had been good neighbors for years. Evidently, he had thought this through. I was stunned. I hadn’t thought about marrying, and I’d not imagined myself as a mother. I had never even held an infant.

    We were married on Sept. 11, 1967, with a nuptial Mass in our parish church, The Shrine of the Little Flower. Richard was 39 years old, and I was 38.

    How would you describe your marriage?

    We both considered ourselves fortunate to have found each other at that stage in our lives. We had our first son in 1968, the second in 1969, and our daughter in 1972. Our children could not have had a more loving and dedicated father.

    Before Dick’s death on April 4, 2002, he saw our first son, who had earned a doctorate in physics from Berkeley, married to a California girl who is now a medical doctor and specialist in rheumatology. He did not live long enough to enjoy the birth of their two little girls. He saw our second son graduate from Parsons in New York and become a successful business owner.

    Dick was overjoyed to see our daughter married in a traditional manner at our parish church. Though her husband is not Catholic, they are a good match. Both are artists and have eyes for beauty, seeing it in things that most of us overlook.

    Please mention some learnings.

    My marriage came as a surprise. It had not been in my plans. From it, I gained a deeper, more constant and obvious way of loving. The needs and desires of each family member had to be considered 24/7, not only my own nor on my schedule.

    Because of the reactions and observations of my children, I felt I was more insightful when teaching children in the parish religious education classes.

    The most stressful and challenging times arose when we, as older-than-usual parents with very small children, were trying to meet the needs of our older parents also, as one after the other became less mobile, suffered a terminal illnesses, or died. But, thank God, we managed to meet each situation as it developed. And the children were never neglected as a consequence.

    Because I was married and had children, I now have more empathy and understanding with the problems women encounter with regard to reproductive rights than I had before marriage.

    So my marriage can be described briefly as a loving, learning, productive and grateful relationship with others.

    What is your image of God?

    I have long ago disassociated my thoughts of God with any concrete image. I find myself more comfortable with the abstract terms: Goodness. Truth. Reality. Beauty. Harmony. Unity. Oneness. Wherever and whenever I see anyone doing a good deed for another, I see the manifestation of the force of goodness.

    I recognize God in the beauty of a garden, well designed and cared for. Though gardeners spent hours of back-breaking work to make it so, it is the drive to make things beautiful and harmonious that is the reflection of God. Seeing it brings forth a peaceful gentling of the heart, followed by prayers of gratitude.

    Do you have a favorite Scripture passage?

    Not really. For years, the Bible was my daily source for meditation. In later years, my interest turned to lectures by Scripture scholars. I prefer the inclusive Catholic lectionary to the lectionary used in our parish churches.

    What about your faith is most meaningful to you?

    The Mass, celebrated with a small, inclusive community.

    As a mother of a gay son, where do you find support?

    From the collective knowledge I have gained over the past 40 years from the following sources: Catholic women who identified as lesbian; relatives who were gay; organizations geared to promote social justice for LGBT people, e.g., Human Rights Campaign and PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays); Catholic ministries such as New Ways Ministry and Fortunate Families Inc., a ministry by Catholic parents of gay children who offer support to one another. In addition, I read many books by secular and Catholic authors who explain human sexual orientation, its consequences, and the need to reject the notion that to be LGBT is a person’s free choice. When wrestling with the idea of gay marriage, I found the most helpful book was Just Love by Mercy Sr. Margaret Farley.

    Do you have helpful advice for others?

    Parents know and love their child better than anyone else. Once they suspect or realize their child is gay or lesbian, parents will react according to their personal perception and experiences of homosexuals in general, which can be very negative. Parents can feel very ashamed; they don’t want anybody to know about this. Yet they will desperately want to talk to someone about their fears, their ignorance about the issue, and how they should act toward their child.

    My advice would be to get in touch with a reputable group that ministers to parents who have LGBT children. Many faith communities, including Catholic communities, have resources that are immensely helpful to parents and their adult children alike.

    Google New Ways Ministry, champions the cause of Catholic LGBT people. Those who prefer an organization not specifically attached to religion can Google PFLAG National.

    It’s up to parents to make the first move to help themselves be supportive of their children. They need to be positive and never, never go negative on their children. Disowning a child, forcing change by reparative therapy, public shaming in a church never changed a person with a homosexual orientation to one with a heterosexual orientation. Only horror stories result from the mental suffering caused by those who attempt to “heal” LGBT people.

    What does Christianity offer you?

    Christianity offers me the basic story of a person, Jesus, whose teachings on fidelity to the love of God and the practical love of neighbor inspired many to live unselfish lives. The history of Christianity, however, is replete with instances of angry divisions among Christians and the attempts by the elders to heal those divisions, even to the religious wars and schisms of the Reformation. There’s conflict today among church leadership about the “face” of the church that should be shown to the world and distress among the laity about that “face,” which looks angry, punitive, out of touch and unforgiving.

    From Catholicism, I want a church that thinks globally but prepares pastors, whether bishops or priests, to be well versed in the language and culture of the people in the church they serve. It would be ideal if the bishops were open to responding to the questions the laity are grappling with in person rather than publishing letters that prohibit or warn against some social issue.

    From Catholicism, I want a more mature church, and I’m seeing it emerge here and there. Just as from the earliest days of Christianity, the church saw its conflicts give birth to saints, philosophers, mystics, and theologians who attempted to meet and defeat by their writings the errors that troubled her, so today we have the many publications of scholarly, ethical and faithful women and men to help us mature in our spiritual lives. They move us along from the imaginings and understandings of the faith stories of our childhood to a more mature understanding. I thank God for them.

    What in contemporary Catholicism encourages you?

    The news and quotes I see published about Pope Francis.

    What distresses you?

    When I hear of a Catholic teacher or music minister being fired from a church job because they married their same-sex partner or in conscience supported marriage equality.

    When a religious woman or a priest is barred from working for the church because they approved of women’s ordination and were present at a ceremony. This is so counterproductive.

    When meetings cannot be held on Catholic church property if it deals with a controversial (according to the bishop) subject, or even Catholic speakers cannot address a Catholic audience if they are known to be supportive of an issue “against the teachings of the church.” Policies such as this makes the church look small-minded, vindictive, and unable to dialogue.

    How do you relax?

    By tending my gardens in spring, summer and autumn. Two-and-a-third acres surround my home. Surrounded by acres of open space and quiet neighbors, I enjoy working outdoors, coaxing the soil to produce beauty all around me.

    At rest, I enjoy listening to lectures produced by The Teaching Company. I have a vast collection of their courses, mainly in the category of philosophy and intellectual history, Scripture, religion and theology, ancient and medieval history, and science. Whatever I have an interest in reviewing at the time, I put the disc in the player, situate myself in the recliner, and relax. And if I am resting after work in the garden or around the house, I often fall asleep before the lecture is over.

    Do you have a favorite TV program?

    When I’m watching TV with my daughter and son-in-law, my favorite is “Blue Bloods.”

    That’s my favorite, too! What causes you sorrow?

    Bullying, whether emotional, physical or financial, by anyone in a position of authority or of physical strength.

    What causes you joy?

    To be part of a eucharistic liturgy where the community is truly inclusive and members are invited to do one of the readings then enjoy a meaningful homily afterward. Where members of the laity bring the gifts to the altar and recite the offering prayer. Where at Communion time, the priest announces that the wine is alcohol-free and the bread is gluten-free, and everyone is welcome to the table.

    And where almost everyone knows one another’s name.

    This is what gives me a special joy.

    What gives you hope?

    All the loving people I have met in my lifetime who take seriously their call to do justice while trying to create peace and harmony in their little orbits — and beyond!

    [Mercy Sr. Camille D'Arienzo, broadcaster and author, narrates Stories of Forgiveness, a book about people whose experiences have caused them to consider the possibilities of extending or accepting forgiveness. The audiobook, renamed Forgiveness: Stories of Redemption, is available from Now You Know Media.]

    Editor’s note: We can send you an email alert every time Sr. Camille’s column, Conversations with Sr. Camille, is posted. Go to this page and follow directions: Email alert signup.

    Article source: http://ncronline.org/blogs/conversations-sr-camille/lgbt-ministries-support-network-inclusive-communities-provide-hope

    LGBT advocates cheer prez orders on job protection

    Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

    Gay rights advocates yesterday hailed as a victory President Obama’s decision to order employment protection for gay and transgender employees who work for the federal government or for companies with federal contracts.

    “Every day we hear from LGBT people who are not treated equally on the job,” said Gary Buseck, interim executive director of Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders. “We agree with the president that workers should be judged only by their ability to get the job done, but know that is not always the reality. We applaud today’s executive order, which demonstrates a concrete commitment to nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. It’s a step that will make the workplace better and fairer for LGBT employees, including the tens of thousands of federal employees in the New England states.”

    In announcing his executive order, Obama told advocates he embraced the “irrefutable rightness of your cause.” “America’s federal contracts should not subsidize discrimination against the American people,” he said at a White House signing ceremony.

    The president said it was unacceptable that being gay is still a firing offense in many places in the United States, and he called on Congress to extend the discrimination ban to all employers. But legislation that would accomplish that has become embroiled in a dispute over whether religious groups should get exemptions.

    In his order, the president maintained a provision that allows religious organizations with federal contracts to hire and fire based on religious identity, not on sexual orientation or gender identity. Churches also are able to hire ministers as they see fit under the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom.

    Objecting to Obama’s order, the Family Research Council said it would expose contractors who have moral objections to homosexual behavior to lawsuits and jeopardize their contracts.

    Herald wire services contributed to this report.

    Article source: http://bostonherald.com/business/business_markets/2014/07/lgbt_advocates_cheer_prez_orders_on_job_protection

    Obama’s LGBT Executive Order Threatens Religious Liberty, Say Advocates

    Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

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    .Obama’s LGBT Executive Order Threatens Religious Liberty, Say Advocates

    Obama’s LGBT Executive Order Threatens Religious Liberty, Say Advocates

    Unwilling to wait for Congress to pass the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, Obama signed an executive order Monday prohibiting organizations with federal contracts from discriminating against employees who identify themselves as gay, lesbian, or transgender.

    For religious freedom advocates, that could pose a major problem. Obama’s order does not provide an exemption for religious organizations, whereas the ENDA bill before Congress does.

    Carmen Fowler LaBerge — president of the Presbyterian Layman Committee – set aside her ordination in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. after the General Assembly opened the door for gays and lesbians to be ordained as ministers in 2010. LaBerge, who defines herself as pro-traditional marriage, believes Obama’s executive order for LGBT non-discrimination will actually discriminate against religious organizations with federal contracts.

    “Clearly nobody is in favor of discrimination, so using that language is intended to stir the pot,” LaBerge said in an interview with The Daily Caller Monday. “The question is how do you hold  sincerely held religious beliefs that limit sexual expression to certain relationships and forms in balance with what the government now views as its legitimate role and in defending the rights of a particular group of people. You have a special interest group on both hands, and you have the government clearly favoring one group over another.”

    Obama signed an executive order to get what he wanted without waiting for Congress, and that is troubling, LaBerge told TheDC.

    “I’m going to assume that the president signed what he signed in order to prevent ENDA from passing with religious exemption, because then the two would be in direct conflict,” LaBerge told TheDC. “I would assume that the Supreme Court would have to be the arbiter of those two. You’d have a law that was an executive order, and a law passed by Congress, and the Supreme Court would have to work that out.”

    The Family Research Council’s Senior Fellow for Policy Studies Peter Sprigg released a statement saying there is definitely cause for alarm amongst religious groups.

    “Religious faith is not simply a matter of intellectual affirmation but of active practice,” Sprigg said. “A religious organization which is denied the power to require its employees to conduct their lives in a way consistent with the teachings of their faith is an organization which is being denied the right to exercise its religion, period. People with deeply held convictions regarding the morality of certain types of sexual behavior should not be bound by the dictates of President Obama’s agenda.”

    LaBerge claims the reason the Obama administration is taking advantage of Christians’ uncertainty and lack of confidence on the issue.

    “Obama has heard counsel from Christians supporting what he’s doing and not supporting what he’s doing,” LaBerge told TheDC. “The disunity among Christians is allowing for this kind of confusion and action by the government. You look at the July 2 letter on this subject to the president from a diverse group of religious leaders and and the July 15 letter from an equally diverse group of religious leaders, and while the July 2 letter says, ‘please include the religious exemption,’ you look at the July 15 letter that says, ‘don’t listen to those wingnuts, listen to us instead.’ The disunity among the religious people is allowing the government to do what it’s doing.”

    Sprigg says the lack of proper religious freedom also has serious economic consequences.

    “The President’s policies are keeping the economy in the tank,” Sprigg said. “He strangled the financial and health sectors by passing a health care law that’s trampling employers’ freedom and crushing their bottom lines. Now, as if those burdens weren’t enough, the President’s party wants to tell companies how they should run their businesses, and how they can and cannot practice their moral convictions and religious faith.”

    If Christians and other religious Americans, including Jews and Muslims, are going to make any headway on the issue of religious freedom, LaBerge said, then they must advocate their position on the personal and legislative levels.

    “I think you have to do both,” LaBerge told TheDC. “I think this is an issue that has to be addressed on all fronts simultaneously.”

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    Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/obama-lgbt-executive-order-threatens-religious-liberty-advocates-201628842.html

    USHCC Applauds President Obama for Supporting LGBT Workforce Equality

    Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

    WASHINGTON, July 21, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) applauds President Barack Obama for today’s executive order that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in federal employment. The executive order also prohibits federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees’ sexual orientation and gender identity. This action is consistent with what the USHCC believes strengthens businesses and expands opportunities for American workers and keeps our nation competitive in the global market.

    “Today’s executive order is a bold step toward workplace equality. An inclusive and supportive workplace maximizes opportunities for success and is a crucial component for economic growth,” said USHCC President CEO Javier Palomarez. “The USHCC celebrates this action and will continue to work with both public and private sector partners to ensure our LGBT community enjoys equal opportunities and shared prosperity as part of a strong American workforce.”

    Employees who work for federal contractors are currently protected against discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, and age. President Obama’s executive order expands upon these protections by prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

    In his comments this morning at the White House, President Obama stated, “Equality in the workplace is not only the right thing to do, it turns out to be good business. That’s why a majority of Fortune 500 companies already have nondiscrimination policies in place. It is not just about doing the right thing — it’s also about attracting and retaining the best talent.”

    Earlier this year, the USHCC publicly condemned B1062 — a bill that would have allowed businesses to deny service to LGBT persons based on religious beliefs — and urged Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to veto the bill. As part of ongoing initiatives to partner with the LGBT community, the USHCC also unveiled its “LGBT Business Advocate Award” last year at the organization’s 2013 National Convention, honoring Mr. George Carrancho of American Airlines with the inaugural award.

    About the USHCC

    Founded in 1979, the USHCC actively promotes the economic growth and development of our nation’s entrepreneurs. The USHCC advocates on behalf of nearly 3.2 million Hispanic-owned businesses, that together contribute in excess of $468 billion to the American economy, each year. As the leading organization of its kind, the USHCC serves as an umbrella to more than 200 local chambers and business associations across the nation, and partners with more than 220 major corporations.

    For more information, visit www.ushcc.com.

    Follow us on Twitter @USHCC

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    Article source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/ushcc-applauds-president-obama-supporting-220233025.html

    Prominent Pastor Rick Eisenlord to Attend White House Meeting on LGBT Issues and Obamacare

    Monday, July 21st, 2014

    PASADENA, Calif., July 21, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Openly gay Pastor Rick Eisenlord is among a small group of LGBT leaders from around the country who will participate in a White House meeting this week on health issues confronting the LGBT community and Obamacare.

    “A great concern is ensuring that patients with HIV have access to specialized treatment under Obamacare. This is especially true for those covered by Medi-Cal, for whom HMOs may provide only limited access to such treatment,” said Rev. Eisenlord of Good Shepherd Church Pasadena. He also is co-founder of the San Gabriel Valley Gay Lesbian Center.

    The meetings, on Thursday, July 24th, will include remarks by officials from the White House and Department of Health and Human Services. Only about 100 leaders of LGBT communities nationwide were invited to attend.

    Rev. Eisenlord will hold a town hall meeting in Pasadena in September to discuss what progress was made.

    This is the second consecutive year that Rev. Eisenlord attended White House meetings about the Affordable Care Act.

    “I’m honored to have been selected twice by the White House to participate. It speaks highly of the commitment of the Obama administration to reach out and help those in need, as well as to the prominence of the LGBT community,” Rev. Eisenlord said.

    Local, state and national LGBT leaders were active in educating the public and getting them signed up for the Affordable Care Act during its first open-enrollment period. A second open-enrollment period begins Nov. 15th. In the meantime, some people are still able to sign up for coverage under special enrollment periods.

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    Article source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/prominent-pastor-rick-eisenlord-attend-130000550.html

    Obama Signs Ban on LGBT Discrimination by Feds

    Monday, July 21st, 2014

    President Barack Obama signed an executive order Monday prohibiting discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of gender identify and sexual orientation, winning praise from LGBT rights groups and fulfilling a longtime promise to Democratic activists.

    “Thanks to your passionate advocacy and the irrefutable rightness of your cause, our government – a government of the people, by the people and for the people — will become just a little bit fairer,” Obama told supporters at the White House.

    The measure also ensures that federal employees will be formally protected from discrimination on the basis of gender identity. The order does not contain an exemption for religious organizations, dealing a blow to faith groups who say it hampers religious freedom.

    Obama also backs broad legislation that would bar discrimination against LGBT employees nationwide. The Senate passed such a measure last year but it has not been taken up in the GOP-led House.

    IN-DEPTH

    SOCIAL

    - Carrie Dann

    Article source: http://feeds.nbcnews.com/c/35002/f/663303/s/3cb7da04/sc/1/l/0L0Snbcnews0N0Cpolitics0Cwhite0Ehouse0Cobama0Esigns0Eban0Elgbt0Ediscrimination0Efederal0Econtractors0En161126/story01.htm

    WATCH: Obama Signs LGBT Exec. Order

    Monday, July 21st, 2014

    President Barack Obama made good on a 2008 campaign promise today when he signed two executive orders that will protect many LGBT people from discrimination in the workplace. 

    By adding the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to two existing executive orders, the president made it illegal for companies that contract with the federal government to fire, decline to promote, or refuse to hire someone simply because they are LGBT. The order, which takes effect immediately, will protect an estimated 20 percent of American workers. 

    In his remarks before signing the orders this morning, the president acknowledged that it “doesn’t make much sense” that American workers can lose their job “because of who they are — lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender.”

    “That’s wrong,” Obama continued. ”We’re here to do what we can to make it right — to bend that arc of justice just a little bit in a better direction.”

    Obama’s changes added the words “sexual orientation, gender identity” to the list of characteristics which may not be discriminated against, including sex and national origin, in executive orders 11246 — which prohibits discrimination by federal contractors — and executive order 11478, which prohibits discrimination by the federal government in its employment of civilians.

    Explaining the impact of the orders, the president noted that “the federal government already prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Once I sign this order, the same will be explicitly true for gender identity.”

    The amendments to E.O. 11246, Obama explained, will “prohibit all companies that receive a contract from the federal government from discriminating against their LGBT employees.”  

    “America’s federal contracts should not subsidize discrimination against the American people,” added the president. 

    LGBT groups nationwide applauded today’s action, particularly lauding the fact that neither order included a religious exemption, which advocates were concerned would allow religiously affiliated groups and individuals to ignore federal law, and which religious and right-wing groups had been lobbying the White House in recent weeks to include. 

    The Human Rights Campaign sent out a press release explaining the importance of the White House’s decision to narrowly amend an existing order, rather than creating an entirely new executive order, which could be overturned by another president. 

    “In the part that applies to federal contractors, the Obama administration declined to create a separate carve-out or standard for LGBT employees,” explained the HRC in an email to its supporters Monday morning. “Instead, the President elected to narrowly amend Executive Order 11246, first signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 — placing sexual orientation and gender identity on equal footing with race, color, religion, sex and national origin, and thus making these protections virtually politically impossible for a future administration to undo.”

    Other groups noted the historic nature of today’s actions.

    “For the first time in our nation’s history, all hardworking LGBT employees of the federal government and federal contractors are protected from discrimination,” said Rebecca Issacs, executive director of the Equality Federation. “Because of these historic executive orders, LGBT workers will be judged on their qualifications, experience, and performance — nothing more, and nothing less.”

    “This is one of the most important actions ever taken by a president to eradicate LGBT discrimination from America’s workplaces,” said the American Civil Liberties Union executive director Anthony D. Romero. “By signing this order, President Obama is building on a bipartisan tradition, dating back over 70 years, of barring discrimination without exception when taxpayer dollars are involved. While there remains much work still to do to achieve the goal of full civil rights protections for LGBT people, we must take time to celebrate the landmarks along the way, and this is a huge win.”

    Both the president and numerous LGBT groups also took today’s action as an opportunity to call on Congress to pass the long-languishing Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would extend the same kind of protections enacted today to workers at companies with more than 15 employees nationwide. 

    Noting that just 18 states have enacted legislation protecting LGBT workers from employment discrimination, Obama turned his attention to ENDA. 

    “Now, Congress has spent 40 years — four decades — considering legislation that would help solve the problem,” said the president. ”That’s a long time. And yet they still haven’t gotten it done. … But I’m going to do what I can, with the authority I have, to act. The rest of you, of course, need to keep putting pressure on Congress to pass federal legislation that resolves this problem once and for all.”

    At that point, an audience member shouted “Amen,” which the president then repeated twice. 

    Watch NBC’s coverage of today’s signing below. 

    Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

     

    Article source: http://www.advocate.com/politics/2014/07/21/watch-obama-signs-lgbt-exec-order

    Transsexual TV Reporter Becomes Turkey’s Face of LGBT Rights

    Monday, July 21st, 2014

    Homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey, but homophobia is widespread and activists hope to make the country an example of respect towards the LGBT community.

    Michelle Demishevich, a prominent LGBT rights activist, is the country’s first transsexual TV reporter. While Turkey’s gay and transgender communities enjoy better rights than their counterparts in most Muslim countries, her achievement is rather unique.

    In the video above, reported by the AFP, the activist talks about the fight for LGBT rights in Turkish society.

    Article source: http://time.com/3009411/transexual-tv-reporter-becomes-turkeys-face-of-lgbt-rights/

    Transexual TV Reporter Becomes Turkey’s Face of LGBT Rights

    Sunday, July 20th, 2014

    Homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey, but homophobia is widespread and activists hope to make the country an example of respect towards the LGBT community.

    Michelle Demishevich, a prominent LGBT rights activist, is the country’s first transexual TV reporter. While Turkey’s gay and transgender communities enjoy better rights than their counterparts in most Muslim countries, her achievement is rather unique.

    In the video above, reported by the AFP, the activist talks about the fight for LGBT rights in Turkish society.

    Article source: http://time.com/3009411/transexual-tv-reporter-becomes-turkeys-face-of-lgbt-rights/

    LGBT family planning, marriage seminar hosted Saturday

    Sunday, July 20th, 2014

    INDIANAPOLIS -
    There was a new push for equality Saturday night among gay couples in Indiana who are stuck in legal limbo.

    A local non-profit hosted a two-hour seminar at Garfield Park focused on family planning within the LGBT community. The free event included presentations from family law attorneys, accountants, adoption consultants and faith groups. The goal: educate couples on their rights to make sure they’re protected.

    “There’s so many families within the LGBT community that it seems like they’ve been overlooked, or it seems like there’s nowhere for us to turn,” said Angelica Alexander, executive director of Middle Ground, Inc. “So we felt as a company to bring resources together that not only helps us in this fight towards equality but also educates us furthermore.”

    Last month, hundreds of same-sex weddings were performed after a federal judge struck down Indiana’s ban. But those marriages aren’t being recognized while the state appeals that ruling.

    Article source: http://www.wthr.com/story/26061454/2014/07/19/lgbt-family-planning-marriage-seminar-hosted-saturday

    Indy seminar today to address family planning for LGBT couples

    Saturday, July 19th, 2014

    A two-hour seminar will be held this afternoon on Indianapolis’ Southside to assist lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual families with marriage and family planning.

    The event, organized by Middle Ground Inc., will be held from 1-3 p.m. at the pavilion at Garfield Park, 2345 Pagoda Drive, according to a news release from the organization.

    The free seminar will include presentations from family law attorneys, accountants, end-of-life planning advisers, adoption consultants and religious leaders. Some of those professionals will include Attorney Barbara J. Baird and representatives from Hoosiers Unite for Marriage, Freedom to Marry and Black Equality Indiana.

    “This seminar is meant to bring the focus back to the families that seem to have fallen into the shadows of the fight for marriage equality,” said Angie Alexander, a spokeswoman for Middle Ground. “Middle Ground understands that there are actual people represented in the LGBT community that have been trying to protect their families long before same-sex marriage became a political platform.”

    Alexander said the event is meant to help LGBT families who often face added costs from having to seek “additional legal, financial, and family planning resources to ensure our rights are protected.” That includes seeking legal help to ensure that these families are recipients and beneficiaries of wills, trusts, and estate planning.

    In addition to help from legal and financial professionals, the event also will include free food, music, volleyball and other activities.

    Middle Ground Inc. is a nonprofit that supports Hoosier LGBT families. According to the 2010 census, there were 16,000 LGBT families in the state.

    Article source: http://www.indystar.com/story/news/2014/07/19/seminar-today-will-address-family-planning-lgbt-couples/12880067/

    Reports: No Religious Exemptions in Obama's Exec. Orders

    Saturday, July 19th, 2014

    President Obama will sign two executive orders involving employment nondiscrimination protections for LGBT employees Monday, the Washington Blade reports. 

    Obama plans to amend two existing executive orders to add LGBT protections rather than writing new orders, prompting numerous LGBT outlets and organizations to conclude that the president will not include far-reaching religious exemptions in his efforts to outlaw anti-LGBT bias in the workplaces of companies that do business with the federal government. 

    The Blade reports that Obama’s Monday actions will amend Executive Order 11246, adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of characterics on which federal contractors may not discriminate. As it stands, E.O. 11246 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. 

    Obama’s second action Monday, first alluded to in the president’s remarks at the White House Pride celebration, will amend Executive Order 11478 to outlaw discrimination based on gender identity in the “federal civilian workplace,” according to the Blade. President Clinton first amended that executive order to add sexual orientation, but Obama’s amendment will add gender identity to the list of protected traits. 

    The announcement — made during the White House’s weekly press call with a group of LGBT journalists by Obama administration officials — comes as a welcome relief to LGBT advocates who have been concerned that the president would give in to demands from right-wing religious groups and activists seeking a broad religious exemption, sometimes called a “license to discriminate.”

    “We’re so proud today of the decision made by the Obama administration to resist the calls by a small number of right-wing conservatives to insert religious exemptions into civil rights protections,” said Heather Cronk, executive director of grassroots LGBT group GetEqual, in a statement Friday. “While we will continue to press for full equality under the law for LGBTQ Americans, we’re thrilled with the announcement today and look forward to President Obama signing his name to an executive order on Monday that we can all be proud of.”

    Religious groups, universities, and lawmakers have been fiercely lobbying the president in recent weeks, requesting that any executive order he signs include the option for religiously affiliated companies and individuals to opt out of the order making it against federal law to fire, refuse to hire, or decline to promote someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

    U.S. senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, a staunch conservative Republican who nonetheless voted for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act last year, asked the president last month to include religious exemptions similar in scope to those included in the version of ENDA passed by the Senate last November. The bill is now stalled as it awaits action by the House of Representatives.

    But in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby, seven major LGBT groups formally dropped their support for ENDA, saying the bill’s religious exemptions were overly broad and would create an untenable license to discriminate. Notably, several major LGBT organizations including the Human Rights Campaign, National Center for Transgender Equality, and Freedom to Work, are still standing by the legislation in its current form. 

    For its part, HRC lauded today’s announcement, while still calling on the House of Representatives to pass ENDA.

    “With the strokes of a pen, the president will have a very real and immediate impact on the lives of millions of LGBT people across the country,” said HRC president Chad Griffin in a statement. “Each and every American worker should be judged based on the work they do, and never because of a fundamental aspect of who they are — like their sexual orientation or gender identity. These actions from the President have the potential to be a keystone in the arch of his administration’s progress, and they send a powerful message to future administrations and to Congress that anti-LGBT discrimination must not be tolerated.”

    Wisconsin senator Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay person to be elected to the upper chamber of U.S. Congress, applauded today’s news, but stressed that the executive order does not signal the end of the battle for LGBT equality in America. 

    “Every American deserves the freedom to work free from discrimination and last year the Senate found common ground, passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act with strong bipartisan support,” said Baldwin in a statement. “I will continue to call on the House to put progress ahead of politics and give the Senate-passed ENDA an up or down vote because this legislation provides workplace protections that millions more Americans need and deserve today.”

    Article source: http://www.advocate.com/politics/2014/07/18/reports-no-religious-exemptions-obamas-exec-orders

    LGBT Pride Parade underway in Hillcrest

    Saturday, July 19th, 2014

    SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Between 200,000 and 300,000 people are expected to attend the annual LGBT Pride Parade in Hillcrest and an associated music festival in Balboa Park that begins Saturday, organizers said.

    The parade is set to begin at 11 a.m., and will run west along University Avenue from Normal Street, and turn south along Sixth Avenue to Balboa Park.

    Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, the first lesbian and first San Diegan to run the lower chamber of the state Legislature, will serve as the grand marshal. Republican candidate for governor Neel Kashkari will be one of many other dignitaries expected to participate.

    The two-day music festival at Marston Point, at Sixth Avenue and Laurel Street in Balboa Park, will begin at noon Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday. Weekend passes cost $20.

    Festival organizer Stephen Whitburn said this week that tickets have been sold to people in 25 states and eight countries.

    RB singer-songwriter Deborah Cox will be the headline performer, taking the stage Sunday at 7:15 p.m.

    https://twitter.com/toniatkins/status/490321346925056000

    Article source: http://www.cbs8.com/story/26060522/lgbt-pride-parade-underway-in-hillcrest

    Obama Won't Exempt Religious Groups From LGBT Discrimination Protection Order

    Saturday, July 19th, 2014

    President Obama will finally sign his anticipated executive order banning discrimination against gay employees by federal workers and contractors. Despite requests from his allies in the religious community, the order will not include any religious exemptions, according to The New York Times

    The president first announced his plans to sign the order last month, after Congress failed to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would have prevented private and public employers from discriminating against workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill passed the Senate in November, but hasn’t moved through the Republican-led House. The order will prevent federal contractors from discriminating against their LGBT employees and also protect federal employees from discrimination.

    What it won’t do is allow religious organizations to claim exemptions. As The Times reports, religious leaders petitioned the administration to allow an exemption in a letter sent July 1, requesting that “an extension of protection for one group not come at the expense of faith communities whose religious identity and beliefs motivate them to serve those in need.” Gay rights groups argued that allowing religious groups to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation would be discrimination, according to The Times

    RELATED: Six Stupid Californias: A Definitive Ranking of Efforts to Splinter the Golden State

    There’s a small compromise for religious groups, however. According to The Huffington Post, the order doesn’t modify a previous order under President Bush that allows organizations to prioritize hiring people of their own religion. ”Obama’s executive order does not modify that Bush exemption,” said a senior administration official told The Post. “It stands.”

    This article was originally published at http://www.thewire.com/politics/2014/07/obama-wont-exempt-religious-groups-from-lgbt-discrimination-protection-order/374710/

    Read more from The Wire

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    Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/obama-wont-exempt-religious-groups-lgbt-discrimination-protection-222557211.html

    LGBT groups take sides

    Saturday, July 19th, 2014

    LGBT Yes, campaigning for a Yes vote in September’s referendum, said the country could be transformed into a “progressive beacon” after separation.

    LGBT Together, part of the pro-Union Better Together campaign, countered that the UK is the best place to be LGBT in Europe.

    Both sides in the debate will be out in force at tomorrow’s annual Glasgow Pride parade.

    Article source: http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/news/lgbt-groups-take-sides-171978n.24785838

    White House says Obama’s LGBT executive order will not provide religious exemption

    Saturday, July 19th, 2014

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    San Diego’s LGBT Activism Celebrated On Pride Weekend

    Friday, July 18th, 2014


    The San Diego LGBT Pride parade float goes through Hillcrest in July 2013.


    Credit: “Big Mike” Phillips

    The San Diego LGBT Pride parade float goes through Hillcrest in July 2013.

    Generations of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender San Franciscans have sacrificed their liberty, their livelihoods, and occasionally even their lives to make a more just society for sexual and gender minorities. As a result, San Francisco has earned an enduring reputation as America’s home of LGBT activism.

    San Diego Pride

    This is the 40th anniversary of the San Diego Pride festival and parade, and events are planned throughout the weekend to celebrate the LGBT community.

    Friday: Spirit of Stonewall Rally and flag raising, 6 p.m., Normal Street and University Avenue. Actress and LGBT advocate Laverne Cox, who appears in the Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black,” is the scheduled keynote speaker. Free.

    Friday: Hillcrest Block Party, 5 to 11:30 p.m., Normal Street and University Avenue. General admission $25, VIP admission $50.

    Saturday: Pride Parade, 11 a.m. Begins at University Avenue and Normal Street, proceeds west on University Avenue to Sixth Avenue, turns south on Sixth Avenue, and ends at Balboa Drive and Upas Street. Free.

    Saturday and Sunday: Music festival at Balboa Park, Sixth Avenue and Laurel Street. Hours are noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Cost is $20 for weekend pass, children 15 and under free.

    For information on other events, go to sdpride.org.

    But one prominent activist and co-founder of San Diego’s annual Pride festival and parade, which marks its 40th anniversary this weekend, said it’s time to recognize California’s second-largest city for its LGBT activism.

    “Think about it. The first street in America to be named for a gay civil-rights leader is not in San Francisco,” said Nicole Murray Ramirez, a longtime San Diego LGBT activist. “The first Harvey Milk Street is in San Diego.”

    Harvey Milk, whose life story was told in the 2008 film “Milk,” became America’s first openly gay man to be elected to public office when he won a seat on San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors in 1978. It took three hard-fought campaigns before Milk was elected, and then less than a year later he and Mayor George Moscone were shot and killed by a former supervisor.

    But hundreds of LGBT people have since followed Milk’s political path and been elected to public office, including many in San Diego County.

    Ramirez points to that legacy of electing openly gay candidates in saying that San Diego of late has done more to further the cause of equality than that of any other American city, including San Francisco.

    Among those he noted are Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, a former San Diego councilwoman; former Sen. Christine Kehoe, a former San Diego councilwoman; former San Diego Councilman Carl DeMaio, now a congressional candidate; San Diego Unified school board President Kevin Beiser; county District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, a former judge; San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria; and San Diego County Supervisor Dave Roberts.

    “Going back several years, long before other major cities had done it, we elected a lesbian district attorney, gay and lesbian city council members, gay judges, school board members, and more recently a gay man as school board president and a gay man as county supervisor,” Ramirez said.

    Atkins, grand marshal of Saturday’s Pride Parade, is the first San Diegan and the first lesbian to become Assembly speaker. When it comes to which city is doing more to advance LGBT issues, she said there is no contest, no scorekeeping.

    In California, the cities of San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Long Beach and Sacramento “all have dynamic LGBT communities who are pushing the envelope on activism,” she said.

    “We’re not in a competition but in a collaboration where we share ideas and best practices and spur each other on to greater success,” Atkins said.

    The Human Rights Campaign, based in Washington, D.C., is the nation’s largest LGBT-advocacy organization. It compiles lists each year that rate companies, universities and cities for their LGBT-friendliness and the availability of equal opportunities for gay people.

    Four of the California cities Atkins noted — San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Long Beach — received a perfect 100 on the group’s Municipal Equality Index. Sacramento received a 91.

    Thom Senzee is a San Diego freelance writer. He can be reached at thomsenzee@gmail.com and can be followed on Twitter @tsenzee.

    Article source: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2014/jul/18/san-diegos-lgbt-activism-celebrated-pride-weekend/

    This Indian LGBT Rights Ad Went Viral

    Friday, July 18th, 2014

    The first scene of “The Welcome,” a music video produced by the United Nations’ Free Equal Campaign, begins the way so many other iconic Indian film scenes do — at a house preparing for a wedding.

    “Today Sir is coming with his special friend,” a man says on the phone while busily preparing decorations. When “Sir” finally appears, his “friend” turns out to be a young man in traditional Indian clothes. The two men hold hands. The family stands stunned.

    “It’s a new look, it’s a new attitude,” sings Bollywood star Celina Jaitly to a scandalized grandmother. “You might wonder where the old way of living is gone. But who is worried about who likes what, as long as in the world of love two people want to be with each other.”

    The couple, of course, gets a true Bollywood ending, complete with music, dancing, and embracing by the family.

    The video was produced to encourage acceptance of LGBT rights in what has been a hostile climate in India over the past year. In December the country’s Supreme Court overturned Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a move that re-criminalized homosexual acts in the country. The ruling was widely condemned by human rights activists around the world, including by the United Nations.

    Since the U.N. uploaded the star-studded music video to its YouTube channel in April, the song has been viewed over 1.5 million times, making it the organization’s most-watched video.

    IN-DEPTH

    SOCIAL

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    Atari Unveils Pridefest, an LGBT-Themed Social Sim Game

    Friday, July 18th, 2014

    Atari

    Atari says it’s working on an iOS and Android game that’s effectively a parade-building sim designed to appeal to the LGBT community.

    Article source: http://time.com/3001453/atari-unveils-pridefest-an-lgbt-themed-social-sim-game/

    Atari(R) Leads the March With Pridefest(TM), a New LGBT-Themed Game Coming Soon

    Thursday, July 17th, 2014

    NEW YORK, NY–(Marketwired – Jul 17, 2014) – Atari®, one of the world’s most recognized publishers and producers of interactive entertainment, today announced the development of Pridefest™, an original social-sim game for tablets and mobile devices. Pridefest™ empowers players to create and launch their very own personalized pride parade in a city of their choosing.

    The first LGBT-themed game from Atari, Pridefest™ gives players the opportunity to customize their own parade flotillas with colorful decorations and adorn their locale with eye-catching attractions and entertainment — with the goal of keeping their city happy and vibrant. Players will need to solve challenges and complete quests to unlock new parade and festival supplies, or receive other bonuses. The game will incorporate various personalization and social features, including the opportunity to chat with friends, visit each other’s city and create avatars bedecked in clothes and jewelry.

    “We are excited to be developing Atari’s first LGBT-themed game that will give players of all backgrounds the chance to play a fun and unique game that represents a passionate cause,” said Todd Shallbetter, Chief Operating Officer, Atari Inc. “We will continue offering a variety of games that are inclusive for all Atari fans and Pridefest ™ is another example of how we are doing that.” 

    Atari recently sponsored and attended the second-ever GaymerX convention where LGBT gamers and allies united in celebration of equality and diversity in gaming.

    “Gaming is the largest entertainment sector in the world, and Atari is one of the most recognizable and iconic brands. To have them support our conference and cause, as well as bring an LGBTQ-themed game to market is a huge step toward equality in gaming,” said Matt Conn, founder of GaymerX. “It’s extremely important that we see these large publishers like Atari stepping up to the plate, and I’m excited that they have the courage to take the first step in supporting the community.”

    To register to learn more about Pridefest™ in the upcoming months, please visit www.PridefestGame.com, “Like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @PridefestGame.

    About Atari
    Atari (www.atari.com) is an interactive entertainment production company. As an iconic brand that transcends generations and audiences, the company is globally recognized for its multi-platform, interactive entertainment and licensed products. Atari owns and/or manages a portfolio of more than 200 games and franchises, including world-renowned brands like Asteroids®, Centipede®, Missile Command®, Pong®, Test Drive®, and RollerCoaster Tycoon®.

    Atari has offices in New York and Paris.

    © 2014 Atari Interactive, Inc. All rights reserved. Atari word mark and logo are trademarks owned by Atari Interactive, Inc. 

    Article source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/atari-r-leads-march-pridefest-163100745.html

    Vietnam's First Generation of LGBT Pride

    Thursday, July 17th, 2014

    On a sweltering Saturday afternoon in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city, 13 bands from around Southeast Asia took to the stage in downtown Hanoi for the second annual ASEAN Music Festival, held May 24. From its inaugural year, the crowd had more than doubled in size to over 4,000 attendees.

    The annual music festival was created last year in an unlikely partnership between the U.S. Embassy and Vietnam’s foremost live music promoters, and it doubles as one of the country’s most innovative platforms for social dialogue. With a new theme each year, ASEAN invites international talent and community leaders to share the spotlight in raising awareness on a key social issue in the southeast Asian bloc.

    This year ASEAN festival organizers responded to one of the nation’s newest and most prolific human rights movements with its focus on LGBT equality. 

    Dubbed ASEAN Pride 2014, the festival was one of the nation’s largest live music events of the year and the largest government-sanctioned LGBT event to date. It also marked an important moment for Vietnam: an unprecedented mainstream recognition of Vietnamese LGBT advocacy.

    “There’s a tremendous energy here and an incredibly vibrant LGBT community working on policy, advocacy and social activism,” says Michael Turner, cultural affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy and a key organizer for ASEAN Pride. “What better way to work and coordinate with these groups in Vietnam than to [host] an event where they could come together on issues important to so many people around the world?”

    The festival represented a surprising turn of events for the famously repressive country, as it came only two years after Vietnam’s very first Pride event, Viet Pride. The August 2012 rainbow-hued bicycle parade through the streets of the country’s capital was the first major public display of a growing movement in Vietnam. Like ASEAN Pride, it signaled a turning point for the nation’s social climate. 

    The year following Viet Pride’s debut, the Communist Party of Vietnam would emerge as a surprising advocate in Southeast Asia’s push for equality. Amid rising LGBT visibility, the party lifted a long-standing ban on gay wedding ceremonies but stopped short of legally recognizing same-sex partnerships. 

    Although the 2013 decision put Vietnam in the international spotlight and represented an improvement in the country’s notoriously abysmal human rights record, the battle for LGBT visibility had already begun a decade earlier. 

    Leading the charge was not the country’s ruling Communist Party but rather a new generation of nongovernmental organizations and local grassroots groups. Their fight, that began in the early 2000s, prioritized changing public opinion over gaining political recognition.

    “Before 2007, any time a [Vietnamese newspaper] ran a story about LGBT [people], I can assure you that at least half of those stories were very, very negative,” says Huy, the LGBT technical officer for the Institute for Studies of Society, Economy, and Environment (iSEE), one of the most prominent advocates for LGBT media representation in Vietnam. 

    “They often described homosexuality as a social evil and connected it with crime, and something that went against traditional Vietnamese culture,” Huy says. “Now, when you find stories in papers and in online magazines, those stories are about LGBT rights and are generally really supportive.”

    The shift in LGBT media representation within Vietnam came about in part because of the institute’s sensitivity training campaigns for journalists. While homosexuality was regularly cited as a “social evil” and associated with taboo issues like drug use and prostitution before 2005, recent media coverage, even in state-run newspapers, has been increasingly positive.

    And although 2014 research by iSEE still shows a majority of Vietnamese are against homosexuality and same-sex unions, the efforts did spark a transformation in public opinion for a very important cohort of Vietnamese people: youth. 

    From a 2005 survey that showed a majority of Vietnamese between the ages of 14 and 25 as opposing homosexuality, the 2014 survey by iSEE indicated that a majority of Vietnamese youth are now firmly in support of LGBT equality. 

    The recent changes are a testament not only to iSEE’s efforts in combating negative representations in LGBT culture in Vietnamese media but also to Vietnam’s development. With a rapidly growing economy, Vietnam has become increasingly connected with international media. 

    Unlike their parents’ generation, young people in the country now have more ability to interact and engage with global movements, and take to heart the implications they have for Vietnam’s future.

    “[This generation] and the last grew up in completely different social and historical contexts,” says Tam Nguyen, an enterprising local LGBT activist and the organizer of the first Viet Pride parade. 

    “The message of creating and initiating social change is something that resonates more strongly with young Vietnamese,” she continues. “Many feel very connected to the idea of participating in something larger than themselves.”

    At only 27, Tam personifies the youthful energy of Vietnam’s LGBT movement. She, like many Vietnamese around her age, feels a greater responsibility to contribute to Vietnam’s social development than did previous generations. 

    These sentiments have inspired young Vietnamese to become the driving force behind the country’s LGBT movement. They make up a majority of participants in community organizations and are the most actively involved in increasing awareness for LGBT issues. Participants in on-the-ground activism like Viet Pride are predominantly college-age, and campaigns against bullying and discrimination have cropped up on many college campuses in Vietnam. 

    Unsurprisingly, this youthful energy is what captured the attention of the organizers at ASEAN Festival in the first place, and what set the stage for its realization. 

    These young people “are a reflection of a young Vietnam that is actively engaged in creating a brighter future for the country, and for ASEAN Pride, we wanted to harness that energy,” says Turner, the ASEAN Pride organizer with the the U.S. Embassy.

    ASEAN Pride was just another step toward this brighter future of Vietnam. And with the third annual Viet Pride set to kick off in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in August of this year, no doubt led by a dynamic group of young activists‚ the movement shows no signs of slowing down. 

    See more photos from ASEAN Pride 2014 on the following page.

    Article source: http://www.advocate.com/world/2014/07/17/vietnams-first-generation-lgbt-pride

    WATCH: LGBT Kids Books (And a Little Glitter) Delivered to Your Door

    Thursday, July 17th, 2014

    As the parent of a kindergartner, S. Bear Bergman — the queer, trans funnyman who has authored six LGBT-themed books, including Butch is a Noun and Blood, Marriage, Wine, and Glitter — says he spends a lot of time looking for the kinds of books he can feel good about giving his child: ones that “represent our family and friends in positive, celebratory ways.”

    But those books aren’t always easy to find. That’s why Bergman and his partner, writer j wallace, took matters into their own hands by founding Flamingo Rampant, a children’s book press. In 2012, they released Backwards Day and The Adventures of Tulip, the Birthday Wish Fairy, two whimsical tales that feature young, gender-independent protagonists.

    The couple’s initial efforts met with an enthusiastic response, much to the surprise of the large publishing houses that, according to Curve, told Bergman and wallace there was no market for books about trans children. But after those first two titles, the small press remained quiet for two years.

    But now, the silence has ended. This week, Flamingo Rampant unveiled its latest ambitious project: a year-long subscription book club that will deliver “LGBTQ2S-themed” picture books to subscribers’ doors. For a genre that can boast only a couple handfuls of high-quality books, releasing 6 in one year — as the project intends to do, according its Kickstarter — is an enormous leap forward.

    According to Bergman, the subscription service will fill a gap left by the recent dwindling of independent feminist and LGBT bookstores. “[This is] a curated choice of books that represent really positive values about our community,” he says in the video accompanying the project’s Kickstarter campaign, and included below. “We’re trying to do something different [than big press conglomerates],” he continues, proudly pointing out how the project is explicitly by and for queer and trans people.

    How does the Flamingo Rampant Book Club intend to widen literature for its pre-K to 3rd grade readership? For one, the books will explicitly feature lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and two-spirit people, says Bergman in a statement. “Yes,” he adds, “we really mean ALL of those identities. No more erasure or invisibility!”

    Further, he says, half of the books feature kids or families of color — “as in, the book is about them, not that they wander through on one page.” Lastly, he highlights the books’ emphasis on joy and celebration, in contrast to the many books about LGBT and gender-independent children that are about bullying or facing difficult events.

    If the Flamingo Rampant Book Club’s fundraiser successfully meets its goal — or far exceeds it, as with the Kickstarter that first launched the press itself — subscribers will receive a new children’s book every other month delivered, as Bergman reveals with his signature wit, “in a bright pink envelope. And almost certainly with some glitter.”

    Expected titles include Catherine Hernandez’s M is for Mustache, an ABC picture book filled with the images and values of Pride; a book by indigenous author Kiley May about a gender-independent boy finding strength in his long hair; and Bergman’s Is That For a Boy or Girl?, which features twelve kids rhyming about their gender binary-defying interests.

    To learn more about the project, watch the video of Bergman and his adorable son below.

    Article source: http://www.advocate.com/2014/07/14/watch-lgbt-kids-books-delivered-your-door

    Op-ed: When Will We Finally Stop Smoking?

    Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

    As a primary care physician I routinely talk with patients about the hazards of smoking. But I must confess that I don’t think of it as something we need to teach clinicians a lot about. For example, I included the subject in a talk I was giving on LGBT health at a VA Hospital and was told they have a comprehensive anti-smoking program that applies to all. This is consistent with statistics showing the vast majority of clinicians know how to address smoking cessation and incorporate it into patient care.

    But smoking is a major LGBT health issue. Studies consistently show that LGBT people smoke at rates that are 35 to 200 percent higher than the general population. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) most recent data show that the prevalence of smoking among LGBT people 30.8 percent, compared with a rate of 20.5 percent among non-LGBT people.

    Some of this is attributable to targeted marketing. Tobacco companies have long targeted our community with ads featuring LGBT people and themes. They have supported our causes. While the support has been welcomed, it has come with a price. And smoking has been, historically, tightly woven into the fabric of LGBT socializing in bars and clubs, although this is slowly changing.

    Meanwhile, smoking remains a potent stress reliever for those struggling with acceptance in a tough world, though it is well established that in the long run, smoking diminishes one’s health and appearance. One of the best smoking cessation campaigns I’ve seen was produced years ago by the Massachusetts Department of Health, showing photos of the impact of smoking on how one looks, with cracking skin and difficulty breathing.

    Clearly public health outreach is critical to help LGBT people ? and clinicians?understand how smoking disproportionately affects the LGBT community. In recognition of LGBT Pride Month in June, the CDC released an enlightening video called “Smoking Within the LGBT Community.” The CDC also rolled out a video from its Tips From Smokers Campaign featuring Brian, a man who suffered a stroke that resulted from complications due to smoking and his HIV status.  

    Those are critical public health education tools. But studies show that over 70 percent of smokers do see clinicians. Research also shows that health care providers who take the time to talk with patients about smoking actually make a difference in helping them quit successfully. Doctors absolutely must incorporate these discussions into all visits with patients who smoke.

    An approach recommended by the US Department of Health and Human Services has the virtue of simplicity but hits the basics. It’s called the “5 A’s:”

    1. Ask about tobacco use.
    2. Advise to quit.
    3. Assess willingness to attempt to quit.
    4. Assist in quit attempt with medication and counseling.
    5. Arrange follow up.

    This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Surgeon General’s influential report on the hazards of smoking. The policies spurred by that report have cut our country’s smoking rate by more than half. As we celebrate that progress, we owe it to our families, our friends, and the LGBT community to continue to improve awareness that rates of smoking?and its ultimate impact on health?impact LGBT people at far higher rates than the general population.

    HARVEY MAKADON, MD is Director of the National LGBT Health Education Center at The Fenway Institute. He is also clinical professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, the LGBT advisor in Harvard Medical School’s office for recruitment and multicultural affairs, and a member of the division of general medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

    Article source: http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2014/07/15/op-ed-when-will-we-finally-stop-smoking

       
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