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


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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/

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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

City Council proclaims July as LGBT Pride month in San Diego

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The City Council Tuesday proclaimed July as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month in San Diego.

Festivities celebrating 40 years of LGBT pride in San Diego are scheduled to take place this weekend in Hillcrest and Balboa Park.

The passage of four decades demonstrates how far the LGBT community has come, in big and small ways, council President Todd Gloria said, noting “small things like the raising of a pride flag in the Gaslamp Quarter.”

“Normally, this happens in Hillcrest, but we’re now in downtown,” he said. “This is a sign of progress, and I thank our mayor for leading that particular effort.”

Gloria said it wasn’t long ago that not all council members would sign such a proclamation, but they all have in the last few years.

“There are big things you all have seen in the last year or so — the striking down of the Defense of Marriage Act, the repeal of `Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.’ The progress is undeniable to the point that we literally, almost on a weekly basis, see another state come forward and say that they will allow LGBT Americans the right to marry,” Gloria said.

The council president, who is openly gay, added that he was glad that the only barriers to his getting married were his “looks and personality,” not his government.

Stephen Whitburn, the general manager of San Diego Pride, said tickets for the weekend festival in Balboa Park have been sold to people in 25 states and eight countries.

“People from around this country and around the world are coming to San Diego this weekend,” Whitburn said. “San Diego is known as one of the most LGBT-friendly cities in the world.”

The annual Pride Parade, which draws tens of thousands of spectators to Hillcrest, is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Article source: http://www.sandiego6.com/news/local/City-Council-proclaims-July-as-LGBT-Pride-month-in-San-Diego-267215121.html

Council proclaims July as LGBT pride month in SD

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

SAN DIEGO – The City Council Tuesday proclaimed July as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month in San Diego.

Festivities celebrating 40 years of LGBT pride in San Diego are scheduled to take place this weekend in Hillcrest and Balboa Park.

The passage of four decades demonstrates how far the LGBT community has come, in big and small ways, council President Todd Gloria said, noting “small things like the raising of a pride flag in the Gaslamp Quarter.”

“Normally, this happens in Hillcrest, but we’re now in downtown,” he said. “This is a sign of progress, and I thank our mayor for leading that particular effort.”

Gloria said it wasn’t long ago that not all council members would sign such a proclamation, but they all have in the last few years.

“There are big things you all have seen in the last year or so — the striking down of the Defense of Marriage Act, the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.’ The progress is undeniable to the point that we literally, almost on a weekly basis, see another state come forward and say that they will allow LGBT Americans the right to marry,” Gloria said.

The council president, who is openly gay, added that he was glad that the only barriers to his getting married were his “looks and personality,” not his government.

Stephen Whitburn, the general manager of San Diego Pride, said tickets for the weekend festival in Balboa Park have been sold to people in 25 states and eight countries.

“People from around this country and around the world are coming to San Diego this weekend,” Whitburn said. “San Diego is known as one of the most LGBT-friendly cities in the world.”

The annual Pride Parade, which draws tens of thousands of spectators to Hillcrest, is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Article source: http://www.10news.com/news/city-council-proclaims-july-as-lgbt-pride-month-in-san-diego

How Many LGBT Americans There Are Depends On What You Ask

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the latest group to attempt to estimate just how many people identify as a sexual orientation other than heterosexual. According to the CDC’s National Health Interview Survey, the first broad government survey of sexual orientation, just under 3 percent of Americans identify as gay, lesbian and bisexual. Gays and lesbians make up 1.6 percent of the survey, bisexuals make up 0.7, and 96.6 percent of Americans identify as straight, based on a sample size of 33,557 adults between the ages of 18 and 64.

As The Washington Post wrote, from a health care point of view, identifying sexuality is an important step towards identifying the unique health needs of the LGBT community. But as far as quantifying how many Americans aren’t heterosexual, the survey leaves something to be desired. It doesn’t ask about respondent’s gender identity and, as The Post noted, a small percentage of people needed more options: “an additional 1.1 percent declined to answer, responded ‘I don’t know the answer’ or said they were ‘something else.’”

RELATED: We Don’t Want to See Chris Christie’s Action Film

The survey comes up with a number that’s lower than the 3.5 to 4 percent figure found in other surveys. And as we’ve seen from past surveys, what’s asked matters. Specifically, the broadness of the answers available to respondents makes a difference.

In 2007, researchers at Cornell University interviewed 20,000 individuals in 80 communities. “Mostly heterosexual” was an option for respondents, and the results showed a higher percentage of nonheterosexuality, especially among women:

85.1% of the young women identified as heterosexual; 0.5% reported no sexual identity; and the remaining 14.4% were sexual but not strictly heterosexual, i.e. either lesbian or bisexual. Among young men, 94.0% identified themselves as heterosexual; 0.4% of the men reported no sexual identity; and the remaining 5.6% identified as gay or bisexual. 

In 2012, Gallup asked 121,290 individuals “Do you, personally, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender?” and found that 3.4 percent identify as LGBT. Gallup explained the difficulty in getting a complete number with this:

Measuring sexual orientation and gender identity can be challenging since these concepts involve complex social and cultural patterns. As a group still subject to social stigma, many of those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender may not be forthcoming about this identity when asked about it in a survey. Therefore, it’s likely that some Americans in what is commonly referred to as “the closet” would not be included in the estimates derived from the Gallup interviews. 

What we do know for sure is that, based on the data available, people tend to overestimate the number of LGBT Americans. According to a 2011 Gallup poll, only 4 percent of Americans guessed that less than 5 percent of the population is gay or lesbian (again, that doesn’t account for bisexual, “I don’t know the answer” or “something else”).

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And that, too, has policy implications. As The Atlantic noted, “people who overestimate the percent of gay Americans by a factor of 12 seem likely to also wildly overestimate the cultural impact of same-sex marriage.” At the same time, this “may reflect a triumph of the gay and lesbian movement’s decades-long fight against invisibility and the closet.” Despite its limitations, the CDC survey represents a small victory in the fight against the invisibility of the way sexual orientation and health interact. 

This article was originally published at http://www.thewire.com/politics/2014/07/how-many-lgbt-americans-there-are-depends-on-what-you-ask/374495/

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Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/many-lgbt-americans-depends-ask-202741962.html

Dolly Parton Planning LGBT-Friendly Dance Album

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Article source: http://www.billboard.com/node/6157621

Mayor Slay set to attend LGBT event today in The Grove

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Mayor Francis G. Slay has some signing to do.

Hizzoner is slated to appear at Just John in The Grove — along with the first gay couples ever to be married in St. Louis — to autograph the official banner from the recent Pride Parade and give it to the LGBT History Project.

“It’s all set for 5 p.m. today,” said club owner John Oberkramer, who added that St. Louis Municipal Judge Joseph Murphy, who signed the marriage certificates, are set to attend.

The couples are Karen Davis and Miranda Duschack; David Gray and Tod Martin, who is deputy chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill; Bruce Yampolsky and Terry Garrett; and John Durnell and Richard Eaton.

St. Louis is the first municipality to mount a direct challenge to Missouri’s constitutional ban of same-sex marriages, which voters passed in 2004. The day after the weddings, the state filed suit against the city, which has agreed to not issue any more such licenses until legal issues are resolved.

Article source: http://www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/columns/joe-holleman/7d9e8b5d-c124-5df5-a4ca-f70ec03306a3.html

Op-ed: Wanted: LGBT Candidates, Regardless of Party

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Harvey Milk told LGBT people to come out because it would help our families, friends, and coworkers understand us, and that would make it harder for them to oppose our legal equality. That’s one reason the Democratic Party has come to embrace the fight for LGBT equality. Growing numbers of openly LGBT operatives, candidates, and elected officials pushed the party to change, even while Democratic leaders were signing laws like the Defense of Marriage Act and telling gay and lesbian troops to keep quiet about their sexual orientation. The Democratic Party eventually changed, but the journey to this moment was painful for LGBT activists — people like my hero, David Mixner, who for many years fought for a party that would not fight for him.  

LGBT Republicans today find themselves in a similar struggle, and while the green shoots of progress they’re seeing are encouraging, there is a long, long way to go. I suspect there are many reasons the GOP still officially opposes laws banning LGBT discrimination — political cowardice, religion-based bigotry, inertia — but among them is the simple fact that there are still very few LGBT elected officials and candidates in the party. Just a handful of out Republicans are currently serving in elected office in the U.S., and in Congress there are none. That must change if the GOP is ever going to truly evolve on equality issues.

This year at least three gay Republicans are seeking seats in Congress, and the Victory Fund has endorsed two of them along with seven Democratic congressional candidates and hundreds more from both parties at the state and local level. As a nonpartisan organization with a clear mission to increase the number of LGBT voices in government, we strongly believe out lawmakers are vital on both sides of the aisle. The need is especially great now for at least one openly gay Republican inside the GOP caucus in Congress — someone who can speak authentically on behalf of all of us, including the 25 to 30 percent of LGBT Americans who consistently vote Republican in presidential elections.

Richard Tisei, a married, openly gay Republican running for Congress in Massachusetts, is exactly the type of leader whose voice is desperately needed in the House. Richard is a respected, experienced champion for equality who garnered high praise from LGBT activists when he served in the state senate. In his last race for Congress in 2012, Richard earned the endorsement of every single major newspaper in his district, and he came extremely close to beating a Democratic incumbent who was battling an ethics scandal. He easily qualified for Victory’s endorsement then, and we are proud to stand with him again this year.

Being a nonpartisan player in politics is rare, but Victory is engaged in a longer-term mission to change politics permanently, and that requires a broad-based effort in both major parties. Washington partisans may be obsessed with short-term political gains and losses on a seat-by-seat basis, but most people just want government to work for them again. They want practical, principled leaders like Richard Tisei who will serve openly and honestly, no matter how uncomfortable that makes Speaker Boehner.

Then again, that’s sort of the point. While more than 90 percent of our endorsed candidates are Democrats, an increasing number of LGBT Republicans like Richard are willing to stand up to their party leaders and seek a place at the table. We encourage these voices and support their campaigns because like most Americans, we want the GOP to change on this issue, just as the Democratic Party has. This mission to expand the political playing field for LGBT Americans regardless of political affiliation won’t always make Victory popular with political partisans, but it is the right thing to do.  

CHUCK WOLFE is the president and CEO of the Gay Lesbian Victory Fund.

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2014/07/14/op-ed-wanted-lgbt-candidates-regardless-party

2nd annual LGBT Pride Parade rolls through Hilo

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

The parade moves down Keawe Street on Saturday in downtown Hilo.

The Kalani float rolls down Keawe Street during the Hawaii Island Pride second annual LGBT Pride Parade on Saturday in downtown Hilo. A LGBT Pride Festival followed at Mooheau Bandstand and Park with entertainment, food, crafts, information booths and a solar-powered dance tent. Photos by HOLLYN JOHNSON/Stephens Media Hawaii

Paradise Roller Girls pass by during the parade Saturday.

HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald

The Palace Theater promotes auditions for La Cage aux Folles on Keawe Street during the Hawaii Island Pride second annual LGBT Pride Parade on Saturday in downtown Hilo.

HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald

The Hawaii Island Pride second annual LGBT Pride Parade finishes at Mo’oheau Bandstand and Park on Saturday.

HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald

The Hawaii Island Pride second annual LGBT Pride Parade finishes at Mo’oheau Bandstand and Park on Saturday. The parade was followed by a festival that included entertainment, food, crafts, information booths and a solar-powered dance tent.

HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald

The Hawaii Island Pride second annual LGBT Pride Parade finishes at Mo’oheau Bandstand and Park.

The parade finishes at Mooheau Bandstand and Park.

HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald

The Hawaii Island Pride second annual LGBT Pride Parade finishes at Mo’oheau Bandstand and Park on Saturday.

HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald

The Hawaii Island Pride second annual LGBT Pride Parade finishes at Mo’oheau Bandstand and Park.

HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald

The Hawaii Island Pride second annual LGBT Pride Parade finishes at Mo’oheau Bandstand and Park on Saturday in downtown Hilo. A festival that included entertainment, food, crafts, information booths and a solar-powered dance tent followed the parade.

HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald

The MyBar float rolls down Keawe Street during the Hawaii Island Pride second annual LGBT Pride Parade on Saturday in downtown Hilo.

Article source: http://westhawaiitoday.com/news/local-news/2nd-annual-lgbt-pride-parade-rolls-through-hilo

LGBT sports groups offer camaraderie, exercise

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

Mary Shanklin

Senior reporter Mary Shanklin is known for hopping on rides with Winter Park Cyclists, Seminole Cyclists, Florida Freewheelers, Winter Garden Wheelworks, Team BORT, the B3 and Lakemont crowds, and weekday rides out of the Winter Park YMCA – anywhere there is a good draft.

Article source: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/blogs/fitness/os-lgbt-sports-groups-orlando-20140712,0,120793.post?track=rss

Celebrating LGBT Pride at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

On the morning after the one-year anniversary of the defeat of the Defense of Marriage Act and on the eve of the 45th anniversary of New York’s Stonewall riots, about 50 service members representing all five branches of the U.S. military, along with members of the U.K. military and civilian contractors, gathered to recognize the Department of Defense’s LGBT Pride Month at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, June 27.

On May 31, the DoD released an official memorandum announcing it would join the nation in celebrating LGBT Pride Month.

“The LGBT community has written a proud chapter in this fundamentally American story by reminding us that integrity and respect remain corner stones of our military and civilian culture,” the memo read. 

U.S. Navy Petty Officer Second Class Aaronchristian Abreu, 24, a hospital corpsman, joined fellow deployed service members to organize the pride observance at Camp Leatherneck.

“As an openly gay service member, the pride observance means a lot,” said Abreu. “It is celebrating and recognizing that our gay, lesbian, and bisexual brothers and sisters who can now serve freely without the fear of reprisal due to their sexual orientation. Recognizing the LGBT community shows that we are setting the example to our civilian counterparts and that we do not discriminate. We welcome everyone to our organization and value the diverse talents and skills that they have regardless of their national origin, race, religious belief, gender or sexual orientation.”

The hourlong program began with a dual rendition of the National Anthem sung by U.S. Marines 1st Lt. Skye Martin and Lance Cpl. Aubrie Hepler. There followed a reading of President Obama’s LGBT Month Proclamation and a selected top 10 list of historic LGBT moments.

Here are photos from the hour-long event.

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/pride/2014/07/12/celebrating-lgbt-pride-camp-leatherneck-afghanistan

Lindung golongan LGBT ‘jejas’ Akta Harmoni, kata Saifuddin

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

Perlindungan terhadap golongan lesbian, gay, biseksual, dan transgender (LGBT) akan menjejaskan Akta Harmoni, kata Ahli jawatankuasa Majlis Konsultasi Perpaduan Nasional (MKPN) Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.

Saifuddin berkata, majoriti anggota MKPN merasakan “semangat berkenaan perkara itu” dalam akta tersebut tetapi khuatir ia akan menjadi halangan untuk akta berkenaan dilaksanakan.

“Buat masa ini kami mungkin akan menggugurkan bahagian itu, tetapi majoriti ahli MKPN merasakan semangat itu,” katanya selepas program penerangan Akta Harmoni Kebangsaan kepada kumpulan pelajar di pejabatnya di Kuala Lumpur.

“Kekhuatiran kami ialah tidak mahu melihat akta ini terhalang disebabkan perkara itu,” katanya.

Beliau bagaimanapun berkata, pihaknya gembira apabila isu itu dibahaskan secara terbuka.

“Orientasi seksual adalah kritikan tidak substansif, ini bukan mengiktiraf LGBT, dan kami harap untuk masa ini, kami mungkin mahu gugurkan bahagian itu.

“Saya yakin bila Parlimen bahaskan akta ini, perkara itu akan disentuh,” katanya.

Sebelum ini, kumpulan aktivis hak asasi manusia menggesa MKPN tidak tunduk kepada desakan politik bagi mengeluarkan klausa yang melindungi hak seksual kumpulan minoriti dalam Akta Keharmonian Nasional.

Aktivis yang terlibat dengan LGBT itu berkata, komuniti minoriti di Malaysia layak dilindungi daripada diskriminasi dan mengeluarkan peruntukan berkenaan menjadikan Malaysia ketinggalan.

Pengasas Knowledge and Rights with Young People through Safer Spaces (KRYSS) Angela M Kuga Thas berkata, NUCC seharusnya bertanggungjawab meletakkan draf terbaik akta berkenaan yang menawarkan perlindungan kepada semua bagi melindungi keharmonian negara tanpa memberi kesan kepada keselamatan LGBT.

Beliau berkata, NUCC tidak seharusnya mendengar pendapat yang membantah dan cuba mencetuskan ekstremisme dan kebencian dengan desakan mengeluarkan peruntukan tersebut yang melindungi hak seksual komuniti minoriti.

Peruntukan 7(1)(ii) daripada akta yang dicadangkan menyatakan kerajaan dan semua pihak tidak seharusnya melayan dan mendiskriminasi mana-mana individu secara seksual, termasuk orientasi seksual dan identiti.

Bulan lalu, Timbalan Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Kerja MKPN berkenaan polisi dan undang-undang Lim Chee Wee berkata, mereka mungkin akan mengeluarkan peruntukan berkenaan kerana mendapat bantahan daripada ahli politik.

Selain akta itu, MKPN juga mendraf Akta Jenayah Kebencian Agama dan Kaum – menggariskan kesalahan seperti ucapan kebencian, dan Akta Suruhanjaya Rekonsiliasi dan Harmoni Kebangsaan yang membentuk skop badan berkenaan bagi mendengar pertikaian diskriminasi sebelum dibawa ke mahkamah.

Semua akta yang dicadangkan itu bakal menggantikan Akta Hasutan 1948.

Jellene Eva, aktivis transgender bersama Justice for Sisters memberi amaran penyingkiran klausa berkenaan bakal menguatkan diskriminasi terhadap kominiti LGBT.

Diskriminasi dan undang-undang yang tidak melindungi komuniti dan mempunyai klausa dalam akta berkenaan selangkah melindungi kumpulan minoriti seksual.

Beliau berkata, MKPN seharusnya mendengar pendapat banyak pihak berbanding hanya ahli politik.

Pengasas Seksualiti Merdeka Phang Khee Teik berkata, tindakan MKPN  mendedahkan kekurangan pemahaman mereka apa itu diskriminasi dan bagaimana ia memberikan kesan kepada orang ramai.

Dengan pengeluaran klausa itu, Phang memberi amaran akan berlakunya “musim terbuka” terhadap komuniti LGBT yang membenarkan orang ramai mendiskriminasi dan menekan mereka. – 12 Julai, 2014.

Article source: http://my.news.yahoo.com/perlindungan-golongan-lgbt-akan-menjejaskan-akta-harmoni-kata-122103013.html

Morale gap among LGBT federal workers persists

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) – In a White House ceremony marking LGBT pride last month, President Barack Obama announced his administration was working on an executive order to formally extend workplace protections to transgender federal employees.

That was only the latest move in a series of efforts to expand the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender federal workers that have marked Obama’s tenure in office.

After the Supreme Court invalidated key provisions of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which had barred the federal government from recognizing any same-sex marriages, the Office of Personnel Management moved swiftly to rewrite regulations to open up more than 1,100 rights and benefits to LGBT employees and their families. Two years earlier, the Obama administration played a key role in ending the ban on openly gay troops in the military.

But despite these gains, an annual survey of federal employees that recently began querying respondents on sexual orientation has revealed a troubling trend.

LGBT federal employees, who comprise 2.7 percent of the federal workforce, are less satisfied, feel less empowered on the job and are less likely to rate their agency’s senior leaders and management as highly as their non-LGBT counterparts, according to the most recent version of the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey published last fall.

The Merit Systems Protection Board, the agency tasked with safeguarding federal workplace fairness, recently published a report examining the long, fraught history of LGBT discrimination in the federal workplace, as well as current perceptions of such discrimination.

It’s key takeaway?

“I think the environment is certainly changing,” Doug Nierle, the report’s project manager, told Federal News Radio in a recent interview. “I think it’s changing for the better. How that results in attitudes about the workplace … I think is going to take a little more time.”

Overall, federal employees’ satisfaction has been sagging in recent years – a victim of the fiscal pressures squeezing agency budgets.

But according to the most recent findings of the 2013 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, overall workplace satisfaction for LGBT employees is a full 6 percentage points lower than for their heterosexual counterparts – 61 percent compared to 67 percent. Just 39 percent of LGBT federal employees said they have a feeling of personal empowerment on the job, compared to nearly half of straight employees.

Meanwhile, less than half of LGBT federal employees – 48 percent – said they had a high level of respect for their agency’s senior leaders, compared to 54 percent of heterosexual employees.

Answers to what’s leading LGBT employees to feel less empowered, satisfied and engaged on the job – especially given all the progress made in recent years – are fleeting.

“I think for any group, whether it’s LGBT employees or any minority groups of any kind, if you don’t view your particular group as having a lot of power in the organization, you may feel that you are less secure,” said Jeff Neal, federal workforce expert and senior vice president at ICF International, who retired as the Homeland Security Department’s chief human capital officer in 2011.

Neal, who first joined the federal government in the late 1970s, was a firsthand witness to the way evolving social attitudes played out in the federal government.

“Years ago, being gay was considered by a lot of people to be a disqualifier for federal employment,” he said. “But, by the time I started working for the government, that was changing.”

Article source: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jul/12/morale-gap-among-lgbt-federal-workers-persists/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS

RNC reaches out to LGBT community

Friday, July 11th, 2014

“It’s about ensuring that our policies meet the needs of the LGBT communities,” RNC Chief William Janes said at a news conference at police headquarters Thursday.

“It’s about ensuring that there are no barriers for anybody

who wants to seek a career with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, and as well it’s about ensuring

that we’re approachable for potential victims of crime who may

be members of the LGBT?community.”

A centrepiece of the force’s efforts is a new video targeted at the LGBT community, featuring officers promoting tolerance and diversity and encouraging recruitment.

“If you can serve, you can serve,” say officers in the short video.

Insp. Pat Roche says the video grew out of a committee struck earlier this year that includes LGBT members of the RNC to discuss ways to become involved in Pride Week.

“This was one of the suggestions that came back from one of the members within the group,” said Roche.

“He took it upon himself, came up with the script and got the assistance of officers from patrol services, and the video was shot.”

The video speaks to inclusiveness within the RNC, said Roche, and while the video specifically targets the LGBT community, it’s part of the force’s broader efforts to reach out to other traditionally underrepresented groups.

“Our slogan is about celebrating diversity,” said Janes. “Over the past year we’ve reached out to other groups besides the LGBT?community. That has included the Chinese community, the Muslim community, the Coalition of Persons With Disabilities, who we recently did a blue-zone project with in terms of people parking in disabled parking places. So this is just another event in terms of our reaching out into the community, and it’s in the forefront because next week is Pride Week.”

Const. Georgina Short outlined the police force’s participation in this year’s Pride Week, which begins next week.

The RNC?will take part in Monday’s flag-raising Monday at Confederation Building; it will host a “Coffee With?Cops” recruitment session Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Rocket Bakery; on Thursday an officer will be at Memorial University for a presentation with members of the LGBT community; and the force will be part of the parade

July 20.

This week, the force affixed rainbow-bordered “Celebrate Diversity” magnetic stickers to the bumpers of its cruisers.

 

 

Article source: http://www.theaurora.ca/News/Regional/2014-07-11/article-3794735/RNC-reaches-out-to-LGBT-community/1

LGBT-friendly bar to open in Wilkes-Barre in August

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Search Times Leader Classifieds to find just the home you want!


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Article source: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1524815/LGBT-friendly-bar-to-open-in-Wilkes-Barre-in-August&source=RSS

Op-ed: Why ENDA Doesn't Cut It for the ACLU

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

One year ago Matthew Barrett was offered a job as a food services director at Fontbonne Academy, a college prep high school in Milton, Mass. With 20 years of work in the food services industry, Matthew was clearly well qualified.

But two days after Matthew listed his husband as his emergency contact on standard employment paperwork, his job offer was rescinded.

Fontbonne is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston, and it didn’t matter that there was nothing religious about the food services job. An administrator told Matthew the school was unable to hire him because “the Catholic religion doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.”

Examples like this show why passage of explicit federal workplace protections for LGBT people remain so important. Sadly, under the current version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, Matthew would be left without protection. Matthew has filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and is represented by our partners at Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders.

ENDA currently has a discriminatory provision allowing religiously affiliated organizations — including hospitals, nursing homes, and universities — a blank check to engage in workplace discrimination against LGBT people.

This isn’t the rule for other kinds of prohibited discrimination, so the provision essentially says that anti-LGBT discrimination is different — more acceptable and legitimate — than discrimination against individuals based on their race or sex.

While the American Civil Liberties Union has long been at the forefront in raising significant concerns and objections to the scope of this provision, we, along with our LGBT legal partners, reached the point where we could no longer support ENDA.

It is unacceptable that the most important federal law for the LGBT community in American history would leave too many jobs and too many LGBT workers like Matthew without protection. And as the recent reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby by opponents of equality shows, their demands for a license to discriminate will not stop here. Some are even urging President Obama to sanction taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBT people by including an exemption in the forthcoming executive order for federal contractors.

The national outcry against Arizona’s “right to discriminate” law earlier this year demonstrated that the American people oppose efforts to misuse religious liberty as an excuse to engage in anti-LGBT discrimination. With each passing day, it is becoming more and more apparent that it is no longer true that exemptions are something we’re forced to accept to have any chance at equality. It’s now something that more and more of our community correctly understands as a core threat to our equality. The fight is far from over, and it’s one we can win.

The price for explicit protection in federal law cannot be a provision that gives a stamp of legitimacy to LGBT discrimination that our civil rights laws have rightly rejected in the context of discrimination on the basis of race, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information. LGBT people deserve no more and no less.

 

IAN THOMPSON is a legislative representative on issues related to LGBT rights in the ACLU’s Washington legislative office and can be reached on Twitter @iantDC.

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2014/07/10/op-ed-why-enda-doesnt-cut-it-aclu

RNC embraces LGBT-friendly recruiting policy

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary has posted a video in its attempt to get recruits from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. 

“At the RNC, we’re committed to removing the barriers that prevent LGBT people from serving on our force,” an officer says in the one-minute video, posted on Monday to the RNC’s YouTube channel.

The video shows a series of officers, who together spread a message of tolerance, respect and diversity.

“At the RNC, if you can serve, you can serve,” one officer says from a patrol car.

“When you serve with us, I’ll have your back,” another says.

The video was released just before the launch next Monday of Pride Week in St. John’s.

“It’s really great to see,” said St. John’s Pride committee member Jamie Harnum, who especially liked seeing all sorts of officers in the video.

“The people that you could see around, they are in the video,” Harnum said.

“So if someone was in trouble, even if they weren’t interested in getting involved in the RNC, if they saw one of these police force members they would know, ‘OK, this is someone who has promoted LGBT equality, they’re probably a safe person to talk to.’”

The video is the latest RNC attempt to showcase a pro-LGBT view to the public.

Two weeks ago, a photo it posted to its Facebook page that shows two officers from the RNC’s mounted unit heading to Fort Amherst with a Pride flag drew scores of shares and likes from the local community.

“As a proud parent of a gay daughter, and recently daughter in-law, you have no idea how good it feels to know that you are sincerely making our province a safer and happier place for them to live,” wrote Cyril Humby on the comment thread on that photo.

Article source: http://ca.news.yahoo.com/rnc-embraces-lgbt-friendly-recruiting-policy-104552143.html

Outfest: 'Life Partners,' other films move beyond the coming out stage

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

In its 32nd year, Outfest — Los Angeles’ LGBT film festival — finds itself in a celebratory mood.

In a historic ruling last summer, the Supreme Court declared a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, and now 19 states have legalized same-sex marriage. It’s a major shift from the state of LGBT rights in 1982 when UCLA students first conceived the festival.

“The community feels like they’re still kind of on a high,” Outfest Executive Director Kirsten Schaffer said. “We’ve had some of the best ticket sales this year that we have had in a number of years. You just feel this sort of joy around Outfest, around being together. The gay community is continuing to celebrate and really excited to see our lives and stories on screen.”

This year’s festival — which begins Thursday and runs through July 20 across Los Angeles — offers 175 films from 23 countries, and a chance to see how filmmakers have interpreted the recent wave of success for the LGBT community. One change: a move from a story of coming out to that of a life where sexuality serves as one component of a complex story.

“We have seen a shift from the central conflict being about one’s sexual identity or gender identity to it being core to the character but not the central conflict,” Schaffer said.

lRelated Outfest 2014 unveils full lineup of LGBT films
Movies NowOutfest 2014 unveils full lineup of LGBT filmsSee all related

Schaffer cites the festival’s opening comedy at the Orpheum, “Life Partners,” as an example. The first feature film of director Susanna Fogel follows the best friendship of 29-year-olds Sasha (Leighton Meester), an unmotivated receptionist, and type-A lawyer Paige (Gillian Jacobs) as they try to maintain their codependent friendship while finding their own respective “life partners.”

Which LGBT Icon Deserves a Biopic?

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Harvey Milk. Frida Kahlo. Liberace. Increasingly, Hollywood is producing more films about LGBT figures. But Tinseltown has only scratched the surface of stories of those who have made breakthroughs in the LGBT rights movement as well as those who have made major contributions to the spheres of entertainment, fashion, politics, and beyond. To determine who deserves a place on the silver screen, The Advocate asked the experts: the filmmakers whose works are screening at this year’s Outfest, the premier LGBT film festival of Los Angeles, which kicks off Thursday. From biblical figures to closeted movie stars, here are their dream biopic subjects and the actors they envision in these roles.

[RELATED: The Advocate’s Favorite Films of Outfest 2014]

Chely Wright, played by Evan Rachel Wood
“I’d make a biopic about Chely Wright, one of the first out lesbians in country music. I’m fascinated by the socially conservative world of country — the same fan base that practically erased the Dixie Chicks from history for vocally opposing the war in Iraq — and can understand why she felt she had to repress her sexuality for so long. My lead would be Evan Rachel Wood.”

— Joni Lefkowitz is the cowriter-producer of Life Partners and the executive producer of Chasing Life on ABC Family.

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/film/2014/07/09/which-lgbt-icon-deserves-biopic

Kiev Activist: Life 'Dangerous' for LGBT Ukrainians

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

For Globa Bogdan, founder and executive director of Tochka Opory|Fulcrum, an LGBT rights advocacy organization in Ukraine, the dream of celebrating LGBT Pride the way he saw it done in America seems farther away than ever following the cancellation of Kiev’s March for Equality last week.

Yet this young gay activist remains determined and optimistic in a country he sees as intoxicated with machismo after having stood up to its behemoth neighbor to the north, Russia. However, that bravado is making it harder than ever to be an LGBT Ukrainian.

Bogdan, whose organization includes a project similar in mission to PFLAG called TERGO, and his mother, Helen Bogdan, visited the U.S. in 2013. While in America, mother and son marched in Baltimore’s Pride parade.

That experience led Bogdan to hope he and his colleagues back home in Ukraine could successfully fight for freedom and equality for LGBT people in the nation. He is involved in helping establish and grow what he and his peers hope will someday become an annual LGBT Pride celebration in Kiev. 

Unwilling to be discouraged by the demise of Kiev’s 2014 March for Equality, Bogdan recently took time to answer a few questions for The Advocate about this year’s failed attempt to build on last year’s modest Pride event in his country’s capital city. His answers shed light on the depth of the challenges facing LGBT people in Ukraine, despite the new government’s professed desire to achieve Western European-style respect for human rights.

The Advocate: Was the event Saturday supposed to have been the second annual Pride event in Kiev?
Globa Bogdan: In fact, this was the third attempt. The first March for Equality was planned in 2012, but it also failed because of lack of security. Then about 3,000 radical activists arrived on the site of the Pride march. Last year LGBT activists managed to march 300 meters guarded by numerous border police and internal troops — about 1,000 police officers. This year the police refused to defend participants in the march.

What are your feelings about the cancellation?
For me, it was an expected decision. I believe that the organizers of the Pride rushed to announce about it. The situation in Ukraine and in Kiev is highly radicalized — there are too many … groups interpreting LGBT as an enemy and the number of attacks on the LGBT community has now been increased. At the same time, our police are very weak  after the revolution and demoralized by the events in the east. Moreover, I guess it was an exam for our new government. I heard homophobic comments from our officials, particularly from so-called liberal [Mayor Vitali] Klitschko. I believe that our government failed the exam on an understanding of what democracy is.  

What is life like in Kiev and Ukraine for LGBT people in general?
Dangerous. Now it has been becoming even more dangerous. All expected the situation after the revolution of dignity would get better, but I think that on the contrary, people have become more aggressive and radical groups gained the trust of ordinary people. Now it is fashionable to be a strong, courageous, masculine man in Ukraine.

Do you fear that this unwillingness by police and city officials to support and protect the March for Equality is contrary to the stated goal to be more European and Western in terms of values?
The police realized that they have no power to protect the participants of the event. I understand their position. There is a real and objective reason. At the same time, I believe that the administration could make a more valid claim by saying something like, “We support human rights and the right to peaceful assembly but cannot ensure the security of the participants and therefore have to ask about cancellation of the event.” Instead, the administration and Mr. Klitschko made a quite homophobic statement and accused the LGBT community of the provocation. I feel sad.

Is there a sense that Americans and Europeans will not continue to support a government that seems unwilling to protect its LGBT population?
It depends. This would be great policy, but Ms. [Angela] Merkel [Germany's chancellor] is not concerned with LGBT rights. As for the White House, I’m not sure. I sincerely hope that they will pay attention to it. Although on the background of the Cold War with [Russian president Vladimir] Putin, LGBT rights issues seem unimportant. I think the situation [is that] ordinary LGBTs will be pawns [and] larger political games will continue. And no one realizes that throwing a “hot potato” to each other on Twitter by the two administrations leads to the fact that ordinary LGBTs face … aggression every day. But who cares?

Just to clarify, is Kiev Pride 2014 and March for Equality the same organization?
Sure.

How many members does TERGO have and how hopeful are you about growing support for you mission?
Active and supportive are about 20. I am sure that the moment of the truth has come. More and more LGBT people are coming out. More and more people start realizing the objectivity of homosexuality. Parents who usually have one or two children don’t have much choice: to accept the peculiarity of their children or to face lonely aging. TERGO may facilitate and speed up the process of acceptance which may be very painful when you are all by yourself with the problem. The challenge is what form this movement may [take] under the circumstances of real war and economic stagnation as the aftermath.

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/world/2014/07/09/kiev-activist-life-dangerous-lgbt-ukrainians

What's LGBT About This Year's Comic-Con International

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

In addition to all the awesomely geeky mainstream news out of every Comic-Con International, there’s always a great deal of LGBT-geared programming and events.

The annual pop-culture extravaganza kicks off July 23 at the San Diego Convention Center. And Prism Comics — the nonprofit organization supporting LGBT comics, creators, and readers — will once again be present at Booth #2144 in Hall C and is hosting a number of panels and parties that are a must for any gay geek. Whether you’re attending the convention or you’re just geek-curious, take a look at this year’s offerings below and mark your calendars accordingly.

Breaking Barriers: Transgender Trends in Popular Culture
Thursday, July 24, 5 p.m.-6 p.m., Room 28DE

In recent years, transgender creators have gained visibility in comics, movies, and television after long being consigned to the shadows. From coming out and transition to navigating gender politics in a world still struggling to understand, cartoonists, writers, and filmmakers are investing their work with unique personal experiences as their characters learn to live and love in new and unexpected ways. Join Prism Comics, moderator Tara Madison Avery (Dirtheads, Gooch, Prism Comics) and panelists Dylan Edwards (Transposes), Melanie Gillman (As the Crow Flies), J.D. Saxon (Mahou Shounen Fight!), Elizabeth Lain (F*** the Limits!: The 30-Day Art Project, This Is Where), Ashley Love (Trans Forming Media, journalist, transsexual advocate), and Comic-Con special guest famed comics historian Michelle Nolan (Love on the Racks: A History of American Romance Comics) for an exploration of a range of exciting new themes and stories for contemporary audiences.

LGBT Geek Year in Review
Thursday, July 24, 6 p.m.-7 p.m., Room 28DE
In the past few years, the geek world has been filled with many moments of importance to the queer fan.  Some were fabulous, some were unfortunate, some were misguided, and some were “blink and you missed it.” LGBT activist and columnist P. Kristen Enos (Active Voice, Creatures of Grace) will lead a discussion with Diane Anderson-Minshall (The Advocate), Trish Bendix (AfterEllen.com), Matt Kane (GLAAD), and Sean Z. Maker (Bent-Con) on the events of LGBT interest in the past year, why they think they were so important, and what they might mean for the future.

LGBT Comics for Young Readers
Friday, July 25, 2 p.m.-3 p.m., Room 28DE

Comics are a universal medium presenting us with an amazing range of stories and characters, including more LGBT stories and characters than ever before. Since comics appeal to young and old alike, how do creators use the medium to present LGBT content and characters for younger audiences? What comics are out there for teens and younger readers? How can parents, librarians, and educators introduce such books to young people? Join Prism Comics, moderator P. Kristen Enos (Active Voice, Creatures of Grace) and creators who produce comics for younger readers — Brian Andersen (So Super Duper), Charles “Zan” Christensen (Northwest Press, The Power Within), Dusty Jack (Scuttlebutt Ink, Mahou Shounen Fight!), Grace Ellis (Lumberjanes), Dan Parent (Kevin Keller), Robert Paul (Little Rainbow Comics), and Elizabeth Watasin (Charm School) — as they look at the world of LGBT and LGBT-friendly comics for younger readers.

Queer Horror
Friday, July 25, 7 p.m.-8 p.m., Room 28DE
Horror films, TV shows, books, and comics are more popular than ever. Authors, filmmakers, and comics creators are always looking for new twists to the medium including presenting LGBT subtext, plot elements, and characters. But does a gay horror genre exist, and if so, what makes it different from mainstream horror? Do queer horror creators bring a different sensibility to the genre? Has the surge of LGBTQ acceptance and civil rights influenced the horror genre? Join Prism Comics and moderator–horror expert Sean Abley (Fangoria’s Gay of the Dead, Out in the Dark) and panelists Jeffrey Reddick (Final Destination; Day of the Dead), JT Seaton (George: A Zombie Intervention, NOLA Horror Film Festival), Tim Sullivan (2001 Maniacs, Chillerama), and Michael Varrati (Tales of Poe, Sins of Dracula) as they explore these and other aspects of this popular genre from a queer perspective. 

Heroes vs. Villains Superhero Dance Party
Friday, July 25, 10 p.m.-2 a.m.

Rich’s Nightclub, 1051 University Ave., San Diego, CA 92103
Rich’s Nightclub celebrates a geek milestone with the 10th Annual Heroes vs. Villains Superhero Dance Party. DJ Marcel will be spinning EDM, superhero themes, video game themes, and more in the Back Bar while DJ QooLee Kid will be driving the beats in the Front Bar. This event has become a gay geek tradition for many Comic-Con attendees.

Gays in Comics XXVII: It’s a Queer, Queer World
Saturday, July 26, 5:30 p.m.-7 p.m., Room 6A
The world spins on and gets ever queerer, even though society has miles to go. This panel explores the responsibilities of creators to their and their audience’s queerness as the radical becomes central. Join Prism Comics and co-moderators Roger Klorese (Prism Comics board member) and Shannon Watters (BOOM Studios) as they examine this and other questions with panelists Elisha Lim (100 Butches), Graham Kolbeins (Massive), James Tynion IV (Batman Eternal, The Woods), and other guests to be announced.

Gays in Comics XXVII: Prism Comics Mixer and Auction
Saturday, July 26, 7 p.m.-8 p.m., Room 6A
The Gays in Comics Panel will conclude with the Annual Prism Comics Mixer and Silent Auction, hosted by and benefiting Prism Comics, the nonprofit organization that supports gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender comics, creators, and readers. Mingle with comics fans and creators and stay for the special drawing of comics swag and a silent auction of incredible comics items, including original art and more!

Bourbon Street Comic-Con Night, Featuring Prism Comics
Saturday, July 26, 10 p.m-2 a.m.
Bourbon Street Bar Grill, 4612 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92116
Bourbon Street Bar Grill, a popular bar in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood, is putting on a Comic-Con night with a costume contest, special drinks and superhero (or villain) fun for all! Prism will be there to oversee the festivities.

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/geek/2014/07/09/whats-lgbt-about-years-comic-con-international

LGBT homeless youth situation 'emergency,' says advocate

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Surprise, surprise, the Harper government is going to appeal Tuesday’s court decision involving Omar Khadr, the Canadian who spent 10-years in Guantanamo Bay for …

Article source: http://ca.news.yahoo.com/lgbtq-homeless-youth-situation-emergency-says-advocate-133839594.html

Outfest 2014, L.A.'s premier LGBT film festival, starts Thursday

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Outfest, Los Angeles’ premier LGBT film festival, returns Thursday for its yearly run over 11 days.

Now in its 32nd year, the citywide event once again presents a wide array of comedies, dramas, documentaries, genre movies, shorts and, yes, parties about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender experience. Some 175 films and videos — some with reputations, others making their world premiere — from 28 countries will be shown, making for a program with something for all tastes.

“When I think of our festival, I start thinking of the city of Los Angeles and all of the different kinds of LGBT people and allies and cinephiles that live here,” said Outfest programming director Kristin “KP” Pepe.

“We create a slate of films for everybody, obviously highlighting the very best in LGBT cinema of that year. We also get hundreds of submissions, and we scour those to find the best new films to present.”

“It’s an excellent lineup of films — with a lot of celebrities in the movies!” Outfest executive director Kirsten Schaffer pointed out.

And she was only being partially ironic. Thursday’s opening gala, at downtown’s classic Orpheum Theatre, features the comedy “Life Partners,” starring Leighton Meester and Gillian Jacobs as two bffs — one gay and one straight — who experiment with Internet dating.

Other films featuring well-known actors: “The Skeleton Twins,” with Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig as estranged siblings; the psychological study “Boulevard,” starring Robin Williams as a man undergoing an unforeseen sexual awakening; “Last Weekend,” a family drama with Patricia Clarkson; “Match,” starring Patrick Stewart as a ballet instructor with some dark secrets; the relationship-mining “X/Y,” centered by America Ferrera, directed by real-life husband Ryan Piers Williams); the sci-fi farce “Space Station 76,” with Patrick Wilson, Liv Tyler and Matt Bomer; the pregnancy fright web series “Lyle,” with Gaby Hoffman; and the cross-generational drama “Lilting,” out of the U.

Scene from the film quot;Boulevardquot; with Robin Williams.K., starring Ben Whishaw (“Skyfall”) and martial-arts legend Pei-pei Cheng.

Still, it’s hardly all glamour. As always, Outfest this year casts a wide glance at the struggles, both personal and political, gays face throughout the world.

“When we look at the cultural landscape in the United States and abroad, we see how much LGBT rights have changed in the last couple of years,” Schaffer said. “One of the questions that we get a lot is how Outfest is still relevant. Watching this year’s movies, it’s really clear to me that there continue to be fresh, important stories coming from this country and all over the world that demonstrate how much change there still needs to be.”

In the wake of everything from the Putin regime’s homophobia to Brunei’s implementation of Sharia law, films ranging from Venezuela’s “Bad Hair” to Russia’s “Winter Journey” address the various forms of anti-gay repression. Others simply take for granted the effect ingrained societal attitudes have on non-hetero citizens.

“I guess I understood very young that there will be no place for me in Morocco as an adult gay person, as a gay person coming from a very poor family,” noted Paris-based filmmaker Abdellah Taïa, whose award-winning, semi-autobiographical debut feature “Salvation Army” comes to Outfest on the International Dramatic Features slate. “I had to think and think again how to escape and how to find the way to do what I want to do. Alone. Always alone. Until now alone.”

Scene from the film quot;Life Partnersquot; starring Leighton Meester and Gillian Jacobs.

While last year’s Outfest was a celebratory affair in the shadow of the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, movies such as the documentary “Out in the Night,” about four African-American lesbians vilified by the New York media and sentenced to hard time for a minor scuffle with an aggressive homophobe, show there’s still a lot to overcome.

“Marriage equality is extremely important,” said “Out in the Night” writer-director Blair Doroshwalther. “But something that feels a little dangerous to me about the mainstream media focusing on it is that they’re creating the context of the civil rights of the LGBT community to be solely around marriage equality. This film shows that we also need to talk about just safety on the streets.”

The festival also tips its hat to “Provocateurs,” moviemakers and subjects whose outspokenness — and sometimes outrageousness — have led to social change. A new wave of transgender cinema is cresting, noted programming head Pepe, with trans characters entering mainstream pop culture on such shows as “Orange Is the New Black” and the Oscar-winning “Dallas Buyers Club.”

“There have been a lot of films about the transition process itself,” she said. “Now it seems like we’re in the next stage of that — what happens after people have the transition, how they’re adjusting and living their lives.”

This year’s Outfest Legacy Project honors the 25th anniversary of “Longtime Companion,” a groundbreaking account of the harrowing impact of the arrival of HIV/AIDS, with a screening at the Harmony Gold Theater.

And for some unexpected fare, the popular “Under the Stars” alfresco series at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre beckons with “The Wizard of Oz: The Sing-Along.”

For a full program and to buy tickets, go to www.outfest.org.

IF YOU GO

Outfest runs July 10-20 throughout Los Angeles. Festival headquarters and main box office are located at the Directors Guild of America, 7920 Sunset Blvd.

Other venues:

• John Anson Ford Amphitheater, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood

• Harmony Gold Theatre, 7655 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles

• REDCAT, Walt Disney Concert Hall, 631 W. 2nd St., Los Angeles

• Orpheum Theatre, 842 S. Broadway, Los Angeles

• L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center’s Village, 1125 N. McCadden Pl., Hollywood

• Sundance Cinemas Sunset 5, 8000 W. Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069

Prices for most screenings are $14. Galas, Ford Theatre and certain other events are more. For information and tickets, visit www.outfest.org, or call 213-480-7065. Note there are handling charges for online and phone orders.

Follow Bob Strauss on Twitter” @bscritic

Article source: http://www.la.com/celebrity-gossip/ci_26108687/outfest-2014-l-s-premier-lgbt-film-festival?source=rss

ACLU Just Came Out Against Antidiscrimination Law Designed to Protect LGBT

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Tue, 08 Jul 2014 15:51:40 PDT

You know things are getting weird when a prominent civil rights organization opposes a nondiscrimination law. 

In a statement released Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union and several LGBT rights organizations withdrew their support for the Employee Non- Discrimination Act, which would protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination. The bill has passed the Senate and awaits response in the House.

Their qualm with the legislation is this: Based on the way ENDA is currently written, religious organizations, the military, and small businesses are not obligated to comply. Meaning, for example, that it could be legal for the principal of a Catholic school to fire a gay teacher because of a religious objection to his sexual orientation. In its statement, the ACLU called this exemption a “blank check to engage in workplace discrimination against LGBT people,” and said that as it is currently written, “ENDA should not move forward in Congress.”

Why now? When the Supreme Court sided with Hobby Lobby last week, it upheld the corporation’s religious objection to providing legal, safe contraception like IUDs and the morning-after pill as part of its company health insurance. Inspired by this ruling, people opposed to advances in LGBT rights are hoping to extend the religious exemptions in ENDA to other contexts, according to Ian Thompson, an ACLU legislative representative working on issues that impact the LGBT community

For example, last week religious leaders close to the Obama administration sent a letter to the White House requesting a religious exemption to an executive order the president is expected to issue that would ban federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT people.

“We are asking 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,” said the letter, which was obtained by The Atlantic. Two members of Catholics for Obama and three former members of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships signed the document.

“We want ENDA to reflect the reality that religious expression is not a license to discriminate against LGBT people,” Thompson said over the phone. “You’re setting the foundation on which all nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people will be built at the federal level. That foundation cannot be built on this gaping loophole that is the religious exemption.” 

Related stories on TakePart:

‘Asterisk Equality’? Three Kinds of LGBT Discrimination That ENDA Won’t End

Awesome Gay Dads Instagram Their Way to LGBT Visibility

Anti-Gay Senator Comes Out for Gay Marriage After Son Comes Out to Him

Original article from TakePart

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/aclu-just-came-against-anti-discrimination-law-designed-225140842.html

   
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