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Posts for September, 2014

NYC’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade to include gay group

Timothy Kincaid

September 3rd, 2014

St Pats day
Since 1762, New York’s Irish Catholics have celebrated their culture with a parade on Saint Patrick’s Day. And for decades the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the group that operates and organizes the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, has parade organizers have prohibited groups from participating in any manner that identified them specifically as gay.

This has become increasingly a political challenge to the point where many of the city’s politicians saw the parade as a liability rather than an opportunity to greet constituents. And sponsors, most significantly Guinness, have begun to pull away from the event fearing to alienate customers offended by the exclusionary policy.

Now the parade committee has decided to change that policy: (AP)

OUT@NBCUniversal– a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender affinity group at 30 Rock — will be flying its banner and marching up Fifth Avenue on March 17, officials said.

That’ll be the only gay group marching in the 2015 version of the world’s largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade but other LBGT groups can apply in future years, spokesman Bill O’Reilly said.

The organizing committee said this move was made in order to “change of tone and expanded inclusiveness is a gesture of goodwill to the LGBT community in our continuing effort to keep the parade above politics.”

This is a cautious choice. It’s not a specifically Irish group nor Catholic identified. Rather, it’s a group sponsored by the network that covers the event and, with support for the change coming from Cardinal Dolan, is unlikely to find much opposition.

UPDATE: looks like I missed that change in operations back in 1994. Officially the AOH turned over operations to a committee.

LA Times calls for marriage equality

Timothy Kincaid

September 2nd, 2014

The editorial staff of the Los Angeles Times penned an editorial calling on the Supreme Court to rule marriage bans unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court often will allow a constitutional issue to percolate for some time and step in only when federal appeals courts disagree. So far that hasn’t happened with the issue of same-sex marriage, but the justices should move quickly anyway. The legal issues have been amply developed and debated. It’s now time for the nation’s highest court to rule unambiguously that gay couples are equal under the law.

Chilean sailor comes out

Timothy Kincaid

August 28th, 2014

This tidbit from the Manila Bulletin:

A sailor with Chile’s navy on Wednesday announced he is gay, an unprecedented public declaration in this socially conservative South American nation. At a press conference Wednesday, 24-year-old sailor Mauricio Ruiz told reporters he hoped the public disclosure about his sexuality will help dispel myths that gays can’t be effective members of Chile’s armed forces. Chile has traditionally been a tough place for homosexuals, although the country decriminalized gay sex in 1999 and attitudes toward gays are evolving. The killing of a gay man in Chile 2012 set off a national debate that prompted Congress to pass a hate crimes law.

Tempe Voters Approve Charter Change Banning LGBT Discrimination

Jim Burroway

August 27th, 2014

A number of cities in Arizona have anti-discrimination ordinances to protect LGB and sometimes T’s from discrimination in hiring, housing and public accomodations. But the only ways to ban discrimination in city hiring would be for the state legislature to do it (fat chance!) or for a city to amend its charter, a process that typically requires voter approval. During yesterday’s primary, Tempe voters were the first in the state to approve such a charter change. According to unofficial results, they did so overwhelmingly with 69% support.

Larry Kramer’s “The Normal Heart” Wins Emmy

Jim Burroway

August 26th, 2014
YouTube Preview Image

Twenty-six years after Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart made its off-Broadway debut, it finally made it onto the Great White Way itself for a twelve-week engagement in 2011. Later that year, it was optioned for an HBO movie, which premiered over Memorial Day weekend earlier this year. With an all-star cast including Mark Ruffalo, Jonathan Groff, Matt Bomer, Alfred Molina and Julia Roberts, it depicted the early days of the AIDS crisis in New York from 1981 to 1984. Last night, the Normal Heart’s nearly three decade saga finally reached mainstream recognition when the HBO production won an Emmy for Outstanding Television Movie.

“I’m just so excited for Larry,” (Director Ryan) Murphy told The (Los Angeles) Times. “It was a labor of love. I fought for it. I really worked hard to get people to see it, for so long. I would just hope that any recognition you get just gets more people to watch the story and to learn about that dark chapter in our history.”

U.S. Supreme Court Stays Virginia Marriages

Jim Burroway

August 20th, 2014

Bostic Stay

The U.S. Supreme Court has stayed the Fourth Circuit Court’s decision upholding a lower court’s ruling which found Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The Fourth Circuit’s ruling was due to go into effect tomorrow morning after it refused to issue a stay last week. The Supreme Court’s stay will remain in effect until it either rejects a request to hear the appeal of the Virginia case or it hands down a decision.

Lawyers from the Alliance Defending Freedom representing Michele McQuigg, a named defendant as county clerk for Prince William County had asked Chief Justice John Roberts to issue a stay. Roberts, who oversees the Fourth Circuit, referred the request to the full court. There’s no indication of whether there were any dissents to the request.

Ugandan Religious NGO Lays Off Staff After US Aid Cuts

Jim Burroway

August 18th, 2014

The Ugandan opposition magazine Observer reports that the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU), which is composed of members from the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox and Seventh Day Adventist churches, has had its funding withdrawn for its HIV/AIDS program by the U.S. Agency for International Development over the IRCU’s support for the Anti-Homosexuality Act. Funding from the European Union was also withdrawn, forcing the IRCU to lay off its entire paid staff.

The multi-denominational organization was this month forced to lay off all staff after USAID abruptly ended its financial support worth $34.5m (Shs 89.7bn). This funding accounted for about 90 per cent of IRCU’s resource envelope. The local organization says it is a victim of its anti-gay stance, which the donor finds unacceptable, although some sources claim IRCU failed to meet some of USAID’s rigorous accountability procedures. Suspension of funding was communicated to IRCU in a June 26 letter by USAID Country Director Lislie Reed. She told the religious body that their partnership was being terminated effective July 31. According to IRCU General Secretary Joshua Kitakule, the funding was supposed to end in December 2014, but USAID had agreed to fund another follow-on project.

…Disagreement between the Americans and IRCU started when the religious leaders came out publicly to support the December 20, 2013 passing of the now-annulled Anti-Homosexuality Act. Religious leaders were vocal in their support for the law that criminalises homosexuality, and even organized an event at Kololo to celebrate after President Museveni endorsed it. At the time, the NGO’s budget had a balance of $7m (Shs 18.2bn), which was to cover the one year remaining on the funding calendar. This was cut to $2.35m (Shs 6.1bn), forcing IRCU to lay off at least 30 of its 55-member workforce. That number has further been reduced to just five after USAID terminated the partnership. The remaining employees are now not salaried.

Thousands sign up for NOM’s Target boycott

Timothy Kincaid

August 15th, 2014

TargetLogoTarget, that fine purveyor of clothing and household goods, signed onto an amicus brief expressing their opposition to anti-gay marriage bans. And this has infuriated the National Organization for Marriage.

So much so that NOM is harnessing its tremendous power and influence to punish the monster-store for daring to “maligned millions of voters who support the traditional definition of marriage by effectively likening them to ‘haters’ or ‘bigots.'” Nom has called upon its supporters to stand in unison and let the corporate giant know just how strong they are and what threat Target faces for insulting anti-gay voters.

And thousands of NOM supporters have stood together to be counted. Yes, literally thousands; 2,756 to be exact. And that’s almost nearly reaching the goal that NOM set of 2,800 proud defenders of traditional marriage. Surely within the next month they’ll get there!

Because NOM fears for the safety of its petitioners, they disallow showing names of signers. Thus we cannot know whether those 2,756 principled buyers include those ubiquitous few who seem to sign every petition, such as Mickey Mouse, Mike Hunt, and You’re Haters. But, even if so, I am certain that there are many many good souls showing their shopping muscle and threatening the profitability of Target stores everywhere.

Granted, this is not exactly the most popular petition currently being circulated on electronic media. For example, 5,114 have signed to “Tell Dove to stop using Photoshop in their ads” and 69,791 people want the show Shark Hunters to be cancelled. Both of which pale next to 271,469 people who want Dunkin’ Donuts to stop using styrofoam cups.

But NOM can be proud. They’ve stood up and been counted.

And now Target can treat NOM’s boycott with all the seriousness that it deserves.

Support for Marriage Equality Accelerates

Jim Burroway

August 15th, 2014

America’s growing support for marriage equality is rapidly accelerating, with support in the latest McClatchy-Marist poll now at 54-38 percent. It’s 75-19 for those aged eighteen through twenty-nine, and solid majorities support marriage equality in all age groups up to age sixty. And even for those above sixty, opposition has now fallen to the fifty percent mark. What’s driving this huge shift from just a few years ago?

By 71-27 percent, American adults say they know someone who’s gay. That’s a dramatic change from a generation ago, when a 1999 Pew poll found that Americans said by 60-39 percent that they didn’t know anyone who was gay. … The personal experience makes a big difference. Those who know someone who’s gay support same-sex marriage by 61-31 percent. Those who say they don’t know anyone who’s gay oppose same-sex marriage by 57-36 percent.

One would think this news would be demoralizing for the National Organization for Marriage and other marriage equality opponents. These results also show the kind of dilemma the Republican Party will be facing the next several years:

There are still opponents. Republicans oppose same-sex marriage by better than 2-1. Tea party supporters oppose it by nearly 3-1.

…And while there’s been vocal opposition, the poll found that virtually any movement in public opinion has been in favor of same-sex marriage. Twelve percent of adults have switched from opposition to support; just 1 percent changed from support to opposition.

Fourth Circuit Refuses to Stay Virginia Marriages

Jim Burroway

August 13th, 2014

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a request for a stay of its July 28 ruling which declared Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. The appeals court voted 2-1 to reject the request filed by Michèle McQuigg, a named defendant in the lawsuit. McQuigg is the clerk of court for Prince William County, which includes the outer suburbs of Washington, D.C.

The next step would be to seek a stay from Chief Justice John Roberts, who oversees the Fourth Circuit. Roberts has the option of considering the request himself or referring it to the full U.S. Supreme Court. McQuigg’s lawyer, Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Byron Babione, announced that he will take that next step. So far, the Supreme Court has granted every request for a stay in marriage cases elsewhere.

Virginia Attorney Mark Herring announced last Friday that his office has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case itself, writing that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage “denies gay people the equal protection of the law.” McQuigg has said that she will also file an appeal.

If no stay is issued, same-sex marriages will begin next Wednesday.

Uganda Parliament Speaker: Re-Approving Anti-Homosexuality Act “Is Going To Be Smooth”

Jim Burroway

August 11th, 2014

A march took place in Kampala to present a petition to Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga demanding the reintroduction of the recently nullified Anti-Homosexuality Act. Over the weekend, 207 Ugandan lawmakers signed a petition asking that Kadaga circumvent Parliamentary rules and call a snap vote to re-approve the AHA after the Constitutional Court nullified the law after parliament approved it in December without a constitutionally-mandated quorum. The first speaker in this raw NTV Uganda footage is unidentified, but the second is Kadaga, who told the crowd:

…thank the religious leaders, the young children, the public who are here, who have come to present a petition demanding that we re-table the Act. I just want to inform the public that I think that notwithstanding anything that happened, the public should be grateful to the members who have stood on the side of the family all this time and had the courage to sit and enact this law. And I want to assure you that now that we have the 207 signatures, the rest is going to be smooth.

The ruling National Resistance Movement’s Parliamentary caucus is set to meet with President Yoweri Museveni to map out a plan for the Anti-Homosexuality Act’s future.

NARTH Announces Rebranding Effort

Jim Burroway

August 7th, 2014

The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality announced yesterday that it will be rebranding itself as the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity (ATCSI), with NARTH functioning as a “separate Insitute” within ATCSI. According to an emailed announcement from NARTH President Christopher Rosik:

In recent years NARTH has been increasingly involved in legal and professional efforts to defend the rights of clients to pursue change-oriented psychological care as well as the rights of licensed mental health professionals to provide such care. In this context, it has been alarming to encounter frequent distortions and omissions pertaining to the scientific record regarding change in sexual orientation and the harms alleged to occur from professional assistance with such change.

In order to respond to these important developments more clearly in our mission, the NARTH board voted in January of this year to create a new organization, titled Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity (ATCSI). NARTH will remain and function within ATCSI as a separate Institute that will continue to focus on matters pertaining to the psychological care of clients with unwanted same-sex attractions and behaviors. Nothing in our mission changes, but we anticipate that our outreach will be significantly expanded.

You can see the ATSCI’s new web site here. NARTH styles itself a professional organization, but the ATSCI has a specific section for with religious outreach.

Faced with more state legislatures considering bans on change orientation therapy for minors, NARTH has been unsuccessful in its campaigns to stop those drives. Earlier this summer, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request from newly-appointed NARTH board member David Pickup to overturn lower court rulings that upheld California’s ban on ex-gay therapy for minors. NARTH co-founder Joseph Nicolosi admitted that about half of all clients are teens and they represent a growing customer base. NARTH has been operating for several years on a minuscule shoe-string budget. It’s hard to see how this latest move will have much of an impact.

BREAKING: Same-Sex Marriage Opponents Are Being Summarily Executed Following Kangaroo Court Trials!

Jim Burroway

August 5th, 2014

Worried over a string of Federal Court decisions striking down marriage bans across the country, National Organization for Marriage Chairman John Eastman told a reporter: “It’s like we’re in Stalinist Russia.”

Uganda’s Government to Appeal Court Decision Nullifying Anti-Homosexuality Act

Jim Burroway

August 1st, 2014

Daily Monitor, Uganda’s largest independent newspaper, quotes MP David Bahati as saying that the government will appeal the Constitutional Court’s decision striking down the Anti-Homosexuality Bill to the nation’s Supreme Court:

Ndorwa West MP, David Bahati on Friday said that the Attorney General will petition the Supreme Court over the Constitutional Court ruling on the Act; just hours after court nullified it (Anti-Homosexuality law) which was approved by President Yoweri Museveni in February 2014.

“I want to thank the speaker, MPs who stood for what is right. The lawyer that represented government said she was not given chance to prove that there was quorum in parliament.

The court case ruling is no victory at all, the morals of the people of Uganda will prevail,” Mr Bahati said in a press briefing before adding, “The Attorney General who is very competent will petition the constitutional court over the constitutional court ruling. Our competent legal team will continue to petition the Supreme Court and I believe we will win.”

Bahati was the sponsor of the Private Member’s Bill. There has been no confirmation from the Attorney General’s office. The Constitutional Court is made up of five members of Uganda’s Court of Appeals and is subordinate to the nation’s Supreme Court.

Former ex-gay leaders issue letter opposing change therapy

Timothy Kincaid

July 31st, 2014

Buzzfeed has a copy of a letter issued by nine former ex-gay leaders expressing their opposition to therapy designed to change, reduce, or impact sexual orientation:

Recovery from conversion therapy is difficult at best. Some remain forever scarred, emotionally and spiritually. Conversion therapy reinforces internalized homophobia, anxiety, guilt and depression. It leads to self-loathing and emotional and psychological harm when change doesn’t happen. Regrettably, too many will choose suicide as a result of their sense of failure.

In light of this, we now stand united in our conviction that conversion therapy is not “therapy,” but is instead both ineffective and harmful. We align ourselves with every major mainstream professional medical and mental health organization in denouncing attempts to change sexual orientation or gender identity. We admonish parents to love and accept your LGBT children as they are. We beseech the church to accept, embrace, and affirm LGBT persons with full equality and inclusion.

Those signing are:

Brad Allen
Darlene Bogle
Michael Bussee
Catherine Chapman
Jeremy Marks
Bill Prickett
Tim Rymel
Yvette Cantu Schneider
John J Smid

In addition to the names above, many more former ex-gay leaders have – to varying degrees – left the movement and disavowed their previous beliefs or efforts.

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