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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year To All!

2009 is finally over as we start to see a glimmer of recovery on the horizon for our economy. Although it was a tough year, it most assuredly challenged us to think "out of the box" in order to jump the professional hurdles. If that applies to you, then pat yourself on the back. You are a survivor and are stronger because of it all.

At Echelon Magazine, we are sending you our best wishes for a safe and prosperous New Year. In 2010, we look forward to ENDA passing in Congress to finally give the LGBT business community the respect that we deserve.

If you haven't signed up already, please opt-in to our free weekly newsletter to stay on top of LGBT business.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Federal Judge Rules U.S. Agency Has Waived Right to Appeal Order Requiring Health Insurance for Wife of 9th Circuit Employee and Lambda Legal Client

(San Francisco, December 22, 2009) — Chief Judge of the Ninth U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals Alex Kozinski today issued an order confirming that the
U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has failed to appeal in a timely
fashion from his prior order that a married lesbian court employee is
entitled to spousal health insurance for her wife.

"Judge Kozinski meant what he said:  Karen Golinski is entitled to be
treated equally as an employee of this federal court and her wife should be
eligible for health insurance just like other spouses,
" said Jennifer C.
Pizer, Senior Counsel at Lambda Legal.  "And the judge cleared the way
today for Karen to take whatever action is needed to enforce her rights
against OPM."

Today's ruling explains that OPM's decision not to appeal makes the
November 19th order "final and preclusive on all issues decided therein as
to . . . [OPM] and the Administrative Office of the United States Courts"
including its "jurisdiction over governmental entities such as OPM."  The
November order will be reviewed by the Ninth Circuit Judicial Council in an
appeal limited only to issues properly presented by Blue Cross/Blue Shield,
Golinski's insurer, which appealed timely.

Lambda Legal and Morrison & Foerster LLP represent Golinski in her
discrimination complaint against the federal court.  Judge Kozinski
repeatedly has ordered that Golinski's wife, Amy Cunninghis, be enrolled in
Golinski's family insurance plan.  But OPM has told Blue Cross not to
comply, while also declining to appear in the proceeding or otherwise to
provide its legal analysis to either Judge Kozinski or Golinski's counsel.

"OPM has waived its right to appeal Judge Kozinski's order," said Pizer.
"Their press statements have no legal effect, and they continue to ignore
Judge Kozinski's ruling that our Constitution empowers the federal courts
to end discrimination against court employees.  It's hard to reconcile
their refusal to participate in this mandatory administrative process with
the Obama Administration's stated commitment to fair treatment of gay
," added Pizer.

"My spouse Amy and I are bitterly disappointed by the government's
," said Golinski.  "I followed the court's required procedures.
There are now two orders from Chief Judge Kozinski stating that I have
suffered discrimination and that the remedy is that my spouse should be
added to my family insurance plan.  This costs the federal government not
one penny.  Amy and I enter the new year still with unrelenting stress and
anxiety because her health insurance coverage is inadequate and costly."

Lambda Legal's Pizer represents Karen Golinski in this matter together with
James McGuire and Sarah Griswold of Morrison & Foerster LLP.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Gaywheels Picks the Best of 2009

Each year, the editors of drive hundreds of new cars to find the best new vehicles for you, your partner, your family, and sometimes for ourselves too.
We published our inaugural Best Vehicles list in 2007 and are continuing the tradition in 2009 with some new faces and a new format.
Rather than pick just one Car or Truck of the year, we asked our editors to share their picks in various categories. After all, no vehicle can meet the needs of everyone. So we created a few categories and the list includes Best Family Car, Best Date Car, Best Makeover, Best New Car, Best Club Car and finally each editor chose a "Best Car for Me".

Read on...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Log Cabin Republicans Responds to Comments Made by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC)

In an interview with Bloomberg's Al Hunt regarding the notion of an openly Gay President, Senator Jim DeMint responded with "It would be bothersome to me just personally because I consider it immoral"


"Marriage is a religious institution. The federal government has no business redefining what it is," he said. "Governments should not be in the business of promoting a behavior that's proven to be destructive to our society."


(Washington, DC) - In response to comments made by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) in an interview with Bloomberg News columnist Albert R. Hunt, Log Cabin Republicans has issued the following statement:

"It is disturbing to see such divisive and hateful words coming from a United States Senator, who is also a respected leader of the 'Tea Party' movement. In a state that has made great strides in overcoming discrimination, Senator DeMint's comments reveal a belief that is anti-conservative and anti-Republican," comments Log Cabin Republicans National Board Chairman Terry W. Hamilton. "Senator DeMint is clearly out of the mainstream of GOP and American thinking. Good Americans and good Republicans don't support discrimination of Senator DeMint's brand - period."

Log Cabin Republicans National Spokesperson Charles T. Moran comments: "Senator DeMint's beliefs betray an un-conservative ideology that throws principle out the window when it becomes inconvenient. The primacy of state's rights is the bedrock of our nation's Constitution. The Senator betrays the trust of the American people when speaking and acting like a bully instead of a statesman. Senator DeMint's continued antics put in jeopardy the GOP resurgence in 2010. This is the time for Republicans to unite and hold Democrats accountable for failed economic progress and out-of-control spending, and not waste time on divisive social issues." 


"Another milestone in the quest for LGBT equality was reached last night with the historic election of Annise Parker as Mayor of Houston.  Annise is an incredibly qualified and gifted public servant, who focused her campaign on public safety, the economy and the future of Houston.  She stood up to last minute anti-gay attacks with grace, courage and determination which carried the day. Houston, America’s fourth largest city, sent a positive message to the nation, that it chose the best person for the job based on her experience and qualifications, while at the same time breaking another glass ceiling. We congratulate Annise on her stunning victory, and we congratulate the Victory Fund for their tireless and successful work on her behalf."

Friday, December 4, 2009


In light of continuing delays in the House of Representatives, we must state clearly and unequivocally: Passing basic job protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people must happen now. At a time when our government is deeply focused on the critical issue of employment, it is inexcusable to delay action on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Each and every job lost to prejudice based on sexual orientation and gender identity needlessly compounds the unemployment challenges facing our nation. We call on Congress for the immediate passage of ENDA.

For decades now, we have called upon Congress to pass legislation to address the basic right of LGBT people to work free from discrimination at our jobs, and now Congress tells us we must wait another year. In 29 states, it remains legal to fire people based on sexual orientation and in 38 states, discrimination based on gender identity remains legal. In failing to take swift action to pass ENDA, our government allows unfettered bigotry to go unchecked, leading to the loss of jobs, fear in the workplace, economic instability, and personal hardship, while allowing employers to lose competent experienced workers. ENDA is urgently needed by our communities.

The majority of Americans consistently state their support for employment protections and voters have affirmed similar state and local measures. There is absolutely no reason for Congress to continue to delay this non-controversial bill or drop LGBT issues to the bottom of their agenda. We will not be denied basic rights any longer.  Nothing is more important than protecting peoples’ jobs so ENDA must pass now. Further delays are absolutely unacceptable.

Matthew Coles & James Esseks, Co-Directors, American Civil Liberties Union LGBT Project
Terry Stone, Executive Director, CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
Toni Broaddus, Executive Director, Equality Federation
Jennifer Chrisler, Executive Director, Family Equality Council
Lee Swislow, Executive Director, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders
Jarrett Tomás Barrios, President, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation
Joe Solmonese, President, Human Rights Campaign
Rachel T. Niven, Executive Director, Immigration Equality
Earl Fowlkes, President/CEO, International Federation of Black Prides, Inc.
Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director, Lambda Legal
Christian Berle, Director of the Log Cabin Republicans National Office
Sharon J. Lettman, Executive Director/CEO, National Black Justice Coalition
Kate Kendell, Executive Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights
Mara Keisling, Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality
Rebecca Fox, Executive Director, National Coalition for LGBT Health
Rea Carey, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund
Michael Mitchell, Executive Director, National Stonewall Democrats
Gregory Varnum, Executive Director, National Youth Advocacy Coalition
Selisse Berry, Founding Executive Director, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
Jody Huckaby, Executive Director, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) National
Jo Kenny, Interim Director, Pride at Work AFL-CIO
Masen Davis, Executive Director, Transgender Law Center

Additional organizations may be added.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Statement from GLAAD and ABC on ABC’s Decision to Cancel Performances by Adam Lambert

New York, NY, December 3, 2009 – After it was announced that ABC decided to cancel appearances by openly gay singer Adam Lambert on Jimmy Kimmel Live and Dick Clark’s ‘New Year's Rockin' Eve,' the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) spoke several times with ABC today regarding concerns that Adam Lambert was being held to a double standard.

After these discussions ABC issued the following statement to GLAAD:

"Given the live nature of the American Music Awards, Adam Lambert’s performance, which differed greatly from his rehearsal, caught many, including the network, off guard. This is not a question of Lambert’s sexual orientation. As is evidenced by GLAAD’s media report card, ABC is at the forefront of positive gay and lesbian portrayal on television. We welcome openly gay performers and look forward to continuing our great work within the LGBT community."

“It would appear that the kiss between Adam Lambert and his keyboardist did not factor into ABC’s decision,” said Jarrett Barrios, President of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). “ABC has a history of positive gay and transgender inclusion that includes featuring kisses between gay and lesbian couples on-air.”

“We applaud the visibility of openly gay performers and congratulate Adam Lambert for sharing his story on the Ellen DeGeneres Show this week as well as his upcoming appearance on The Jay Leno Show,” Barrios said.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New York Senate Fails to Pass Marriage Equality Bill: Lambda Legal Says, "This isn't over."

(New York, December 2, 2009)—Today, the New York Senate took a long overdue vote on the marriage equality bill presented by Governor Paterson but failed to pass the measure, thereby denying equality to New York’s same-sex couples.

Statement from Susan Sommer, Director of Constitutional Litigation at Lambda Legal:

"We are disappointed but not discouraged by the New York Senate’s failure to finish the job started by Governor Paterson and the Assembly. The vote taken today denies justice to the thousands of same-sex couples in New York who are still not allowed to get married in their home state. "

"But justice and equality cannot be held back for long.  Same-sex couples and their families deserve to be treated fairly, and New Yorkers understand that discrimination and exclusion is unfair. "

"As always, Lambda Legal will continue to make the case for equality and will continue to defend the state’s recognition of out-of-state marriages, as we did in New York’s highest court last month.  But no matter how many times we defend families in court or how consistently the state upholds recognition of out-of-state marriages, same-sex couples in New York are still vulnerable to discrimination until they can marry in the state where they live. This is not over. "

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Washington, D.C. Council Votes in Support of the Freedom to Marry

Look to New York and New Jersey to Continue the Momentum Toward Fairness

New York, December 1, 2009 — Statement by Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality and Gay People's Right to Marry, following the District of Columbia City Council’s 11-2 vote in support of the freedom to marry, the first of two required votes:

Today, the District of Columbia’s City Council listened to their constituents and overwhelmingly voted in support of protecting families throughout the District, the first of two votes needed by the council to end the exclusion of gay couples from marriage.  A majority of voters, and families, from across New York and New Jersey now look to their representatives in the state legislature to do the right thing and vote in support of the freedom to marry.  As research has shown, by voting for the freedom to marry for gay couples, legislators in these states will continue to be re-elected just as every other state legislator who has voted in support of marriage equality and ran for re-election.”

Take Action on ENDA Now!

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which was originally planned for a House vote in September or October of this year, then November, is now expected to be voted on in February 2010. This timing is particularly problematic because it would put ENDA into the Senate at a very difficult time for most Senators: a major legislative logjam, a major jobs initiative, midterm election campaigns, and a promised Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal.

"ENDA is a powerful piece of legislation that will prohibit workplace discrimination based on an employee's sexual orientation or gender identity under federal law, and is necessary because it is still legal to fire a person based on their sexual orientation in 29 states, and in 38 states it is legal to do so based on gender identity.  The time has come for all workers to receive equitable treatment under the law," said Justin G. Nelson, Co-Founder and President of the NGLCC.

The House Committee on Education and Labor is responsible for moving ENDA out of committee and onto the floor of the House of Representatives. Committee Chairman George Miller of California has stated that the bill is being held to vet language that has been vetted for years.

We encourage you and your members to reach out to Chairman Miller encouraging him to take immediate action on ENDA.  His office can be reached at 202-225-3725.

To learn more about ENDA and NGLCC's complete slate of legislative advocacy, please visit

Monday, November 30, 2009

ENDA in Jeopardy, and How To Get It Moving Again

 By Dr. Jillian Weiss

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act bill (ENDA), which was originally planned for a House vote in September or October, then November, now looks like it's headed for a February landing. That's problematic because it puts ENDA into the Senate during an ultra-difficult time: a major legislative logjam, a major jobs initiative, midterm election campaigns, and a promised Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal.

The House Committee responsible for moving ENDA along, the House Committee on Education and Labor, has been slow-walking it, claiming that it needs some minor "tweaks" on language that has been vetted for years. Rex Wockner's blog today features quotes from some high profile activists questioning the delays, including political consultant Steve Hildebrand and former National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin has also been quoted as saying that delay is not good.

Meanwhile, community action calls to Committee Chair George Miller of California over the past week have been unsuccessful in obtaining any statement or action. However, under the Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives, three members of the Committee can demand a markup, which must be scheduled within three days. The names of friendly Committee members are provided after the jump so you can call and demand action.

A nation-wide community conference call has been scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday, Dec. 1st, at noon (ET) to discuss actions we can take to push a vote on ENDA now. It will last one hour. The agenda is posted after the jump. All are welcome, and I hope you will join us.

Register here:

Click here for more info:">

Sunday, November 22, 2009

OUT is proud to introduce the new OUT University Scholarship Program!

OUT Scholarships are directly in line with our mission to connect and empower local organizations to share resources, skills and information, forging statewide strength in order to achieve equality and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Floridians.

Out first scholarship program begins this week in support of fundraising and board development trainings by realChange Partners (details below) for all our local member organizations.

Not a member of OUT yet, just click here and send us your application ... it's FREE!

To apply for a scholarship to these great realChange Partners fundraising and board development trainings, simply email us at with your request. We only have a limited number of scholarships and the trainings begin this afternoon, so apply soon!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Human Rights Campaign Responds to Misleading Claims by Organizations Seeking to Discriminate

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today responded to the “Manhattan Declaration” produced and released by 145 evangelical, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian leaders indicating that they will not cooperate with laws that conflict with their beliefs, including those recognizing same-sex couples. The document also references the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) as a threat to religious liberty.  Yet ENDA – which prohibits workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity – broadly exempts religious organizations.  The declaration also argues that religious groups that receive public funds to perform social services are unfairly burdened by state and local laws on marriage equality and non-discrimination.

This declaration simply perpetuates the fallacy that equality and religious liberty are incompatible and that every step toward fairness for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community is another burden on religious people.  In reality, non-discrimination laws are working all over this country, where religious freedom is existing side-by-side with equal opportunity," said Harry Knox, director of the Human Rights Campaign’s Religion & Faith Program.  "Advocates of LGBT equality have taken great pains in their legislative efforts to ensure that the rights of religious organizations and people under the First Amendment are protected.  It is deeply cynical for the authors of this document to paint themselves as victims because they cannot have a free hand to discriminate, including with taxpayer dollars."

As a rabbi I am offended that this group of Catholics, Orthodox Christian and evangelical Christians are once again trying to foist their theology on government,” said Rabbi Denise Eger, member of the HRC's Religion Council and the founder of Congregation Kol Ami.  “They already have the religious freedom to discriminate against gay people in their churches. But if they take government funds for social services then they must abide by the rules of equality that are a foundation of our Constitution.”

Knox also commented upon the claim that religious entities should be able to take public funds without treating LGBT people and same-sex couples equally.  "These organizations must decide if they are in the charitable business for charitable reasons or for political reasons.  Governments representing entire communities must not be held hostage by any group that puts its own desire to discriminate above the needs of the larger community,” said Knox.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

You Can Be Fired For Being Gay - Unless You Act

The House Education and Labor Committee is getting ready to move ENDA soon, but you may have heard that the committee vote has been pushed back a few weeks. It's more important than ever that you call and email members of Congress to make sure that our voice is heard in support of ENDA on Capitol Hill. Right-wing groups are using lies to delay the bill, claiming that ENDA will grant "special rights to homosexuals" and take away religious freedoms.

We're working with a broad coalition of more than 20 organizations to generate 25,000 calls to Congress this week. That kind of grassroots pressure can help drown out these lies and push Congress into action.

That means 57 calls to your representative today. Can you be one?

It takes about 45 seconds. So set yourself a reminder on your phone. Stick a note to your computer. Or stop reading this and do it right now. Whatever you do, make sure to CALL 202-224-3121 TODAY.

If you've never called Congress, let me assure you, it's easy. And it will make a huge difference – if we don't continue to push Congress into action, they'll happily sidestep controversial issues like ENDA!

Call your representative at 202-224-3121 before 5 p.m. ET.
Most likely, one of the interns for your representative will answer and ask where you're calling from and why. You're calling to express your support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 3017) and urge the representative to work hard to pass it. Most calls end right there. But if you like, you can add:

In 29 states, it's legal to fire someone because they're lesbian, gay, or bisexual; in 38 states, it's legal to fire someone for being transgender.

The American people believe in fairness and understand that employees should be judged on their merits, not on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act is NOT about special treatment. It simply gives these workers the same rights and protections as their colleagues.

Mention that your representative's support of this bill will affect your future support.

2009: An inspirational year for LGBT equality

Selisse Berry This year has shaped up to be one of the most inspiring in the movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality, with history-making legislation in the works.
We celebrated a successful 2009 Out & Equal Workplace Summit in Florida – attracting nearly 2,000 attendees and some of the world’s most well-known leaders – and federal lawmakers passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the first federal law that is specifically inclusive of the full LGBT community. 

President Obama not only signed the act into law, but soon after announced the official end of the HIV Travel and Immigration Ban. It is inspiring to see our federal leaders taking a stand to protect the LGBT community from problems that have existed for far too long.

Federal lawmakers are now considering crucial legislation that would protect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community from discrimination at work with the fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Out & Equal has worked tirelessly for more than a decade to assure that the nation's leading corporations provide policies and protections for its LGBT employees in the absence of federal protections. The federal government is now poised to do what most major corporations have been doing for years – putting policies in place that protect employees from discrimination.

While this bill has a good chance of passing, your help is needed. It is essential that you contact your Senators and urge them to support this bill, known as ENDA. President Obama has said that he is ready to sign this bill. All we need now is for the Senate to act.
It has been an exciting year for growth at Out & Equal as well.

We saw the launch of Out & Equal, a unique job search and employment networking website that links diversity-friendly employers with top LGBT talent. LGBTCareerLink allows businesses the opportunity to expand their professional networks and contacts with job seekers and employers who are looking for top-notch talent. In its very brief history, LGBTCareerLink has successfully surpassed benchmarks for websites of its size.

Diversity training has also seen a remarkable increase in the past year. Designed for a wide variety of audiences our training programs are specifically tailored for corporations, mid-to-small businesses, educational institutions, faith communities, governmental agencies, community groups and nonprofit organizations.

During 2009, our Town Call speaker series, which features guest speakers presenting on current and pertinent topics via one hour telephone conference calls, was expanded to once per month. Each Town Call attracts busy working professionals and employee resource group members across the world.

All of these new and exciting programs and activities, when added to
Out & Equal’s existing programs, demonstrate an ever increasing assortment of the educational and forward-thinking resources that are open and available to everyone.
Now, while this is all positive news that’s worth celebrating, there is still much more work that needs to get done in order for us to realize our vision of workplace equality for all.
By working together on ENDA, we will see our vision of workplace equality for all become reality at workplaces throughout the country.

I am privileged to be part of a wonderful organization and community that brings together a group of diverse individuals and institutions all working toward a common mission.
Let's work together to make change. Together, we can be the difference.
Selisse Berry signature
Selisse Berry
Executive Director

VIGIL to Remember Gay Teen Jorge Lopez Mercado: Stop the Slaughter

A Vigil will be held in Philadelphia on Friday evening, November 20th to remember 19-year-old Jorge Lopez Mercado.  Lopez, a Puerto Rican native was found partially burned, decapitated and with arms and legs dismembered, on the side of the road near his home town Caguas, Puerto Rico on Saturday, November 14th.

The Vigil will be held at the Church of St. Luke and The Epiphany, 330 South 13th Street in Philadelphia from 6:30 to 7 p.m.  

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender organizations, activists and allies are invited.  The Vigil will include the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus, Gloria Casarez, LGBT Liaison to Mayor Nutter, Cynthia Vasquez, youth activist at the Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative (GALAEI), and Malcolm Lazin, Executive Director of Equality Forum.

There were 29 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) hate crime murders in the United States in 2008. 

We must stop the homophobic slaughter,” stated Malcolm Lazin, Executive Director of Equality Forum.  “Since Matthew Shepard’s murder in 1998, there have been over 16,000 gay hate crimes, and on average, about 1,450 GLBT hate crimes per year.”

Police have identified a suspect in the murder of Jorge Lopez Mercado.  According to Puerto Rican activists, gay hate crimes in Puerto Rico are not prosecuted.

We call on US Attorney General Holder to investigate and prosecute in federal court this horrific crime,” stated Lazin.  “The decapitation and dismemberment of Jorge Lopez Mercado reminds America that we need to eliminate homophobia in our schools, communities and culture.”

There will also be a Vigil in New York City on Sunday, November 22nd.  “It is our hope that communities around the nation will hold Vigils to remember Jorge and that his memory will be a call to conscience,” said Lazin.

Equality Forum is a national and international GLBT civil rights organization with an educational focus. Equality Forum coordinates GLBT History Month, produces documentary films, undertakes high impact initiatives and presents annually the largest national and international GLBT civil rights forum.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Acquisition of Washington Blade Fails


Washington, D.C., Nov. 18 -- In response to media inquiries and an apparent information blackout by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Nicholas F. Benton, owner of the Falls Church News-Press, a Washington, D.C.-area weekly, confirmed today that his corporation, Benton Communications, Inc., had won a bid from parties that included the SBA in September to obtain the assets of the Washington Blade from its bankrupt parent company for purposes of a seamless perpetuation of the nation's oldest gay community newspaper. The Blade was closed without Benton's advanced knowledge on Monday.
Benton said he regrets that the negotiations to complete the transfer of ownership failed to be completed, and that as a result he is unable to carry forward the Blade, its legacy, its employees, and its service to its community regionally and nationally.
Benton said that, after responding to a request for proposal in early September, he was contacted by agents of the sellers, including the SBA, later in that month and told Benton Communications' bid had been successful. Benton Communications won based on a number of factors, including:

1.the company's record of 19 years of the successful management and publication of an award-winning weekly newspaper not unlike the Blade in the and in same region,

2. its stated commitment to perpetuate the Blade's legacy, to offer on-going employment to the Blade's existing staff, and to continue the Blade's service to its readership and community of interest, and,

3. Benton's own history of involvement and leadership in the Blade's community of interest, including Benton Communications' standing as an officially certified "LGBT Business Enterprise" by the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. There was also a cash offer which the SBA confirmed that Benton Communications had the resources to cover.
The process to complete the sale continued through e-mail, telephone and mail contact until as recently as Nov. 6, just 10 days before the news came on Nov. 16 that the Blade and other Window Media publications had been abruptly terminated. 
"Everything was in place, although moving slowly, to make the seamless transition we hoped for. But I remain unaware of what happened, and as a result of Monday's events, the Blade is gone after 40 years of publication, its employees are out of work, and the nation's and region's LGBT community has been stripped of an invaluable institution." Benton said.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Weekly ENDA Update: Could A House Vote Be Next Week?

U.S. Representative George Miller, Democrat of California's 7th Congressional District, is the Chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor, and a supporter of H.R. 3017, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. He will be presiding over the mark up of the ENDA bill this Wednesday at 10 am. You can view it at the Committee's website (see Live Webcast on the top right).

But ENDA could also be left until February, as recent comments by Congressman Frank suggest. I have also heard from someone in the know that the Senate may be in no rush to consider the bill, and might also be in slowdown mode, with markup in March and a vote in June.

That would put the ENDA Senate vote in the midst of midterm election campaigns, making support of the measure into a vulnerability for Senators up for re-election. The fragile coalition-building that has been going on in the Senate with the more conservative members of Congress is more likely to collapse in the heat of a likely-to-be very dirty, mudslinging election in which the Republicans struggle to gain a toehold in the most conservative parts of the country. That would increase the chances of ENDA dying in the Senate.

What will control the timing here, and how can we make it sooner, rather than later?

Click here for more info:

Friday, November 13, 2009

Lambda Legal Calls for Action During Transgender Awareness Week

“Remembering is not enough. We will keep working for equality.”

(New York, November 13, 2009) —In recognition of Transgender Awareness Week, November 15-21, ending on Friday, November 20 with the Transgender Day of Remembrance, Lambda Legal issued the following statement by Executive Director Kevin Cathcart:

In all the work we do at Lambda Legal, we are fighting for a basic principle: everyone has the right to be true to their sexuality, gender identity and gender expression and to live, work and love with dignity and equality. This is a core American value. Yet transgender people in this country too often face harassment, discrimination and physical violence. This is unacceptable and must end.  

We are proud to represent Vandy Beth Glenn, a transgender woman who was fired from her job as a legislative editor by the Georgia General Assembly simply for being true to who she is. This fall she testified before Congress, urging members to enact the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) so that others will not be fired or face discrimination in employment based on their gender identity and expression or sexual orientation.

We are moving forward: Just last month, a new hate crimes law was enacted that, for the first time in our history, includes explicit federal protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  Now Congress must act and pass an equally inclusive ENDA. Lambda Legal is asking our members and friends to call their representatives in Congress on Tuesday, Nov. 17 to urge them to work for passage of ENDA.

During this week, we remember those transgender people who have been harmed by hate and discrimination, and we remember those who have been killed. But remembering is not enough. We will keep working for equality.”

Thursday, November 12, 2009

House Committee To Vote On ENDA Nov. 18, 2009

The Human Rights Campaign can now confirm the House Education and Labor Committee will vote on Wednesday, November 18, 2009, at 10:00 a.m. on legislation to end the widespread practice of employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The vote was noticed moments ago.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 3017), introduced by Reps. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), would prohibit employment discrimination, preferential treatment, and retaliation on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by employers with 15 or more employees.

Currently, it is legal to discriminate in the workplace based on sexual orientation in 29 states and to discriminate based on gender identity in 38 states. You can view a map of the states online:

Earlier today the Human Rights Campaign announced that as Congressional action looms on the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), it is extending the grassroots “No Excuses” campaign to increase constituent contact with Congress and awareness of the comprehensive website:

We launched a national action alert this week to grassroots members and supporters urging them to contact Congress and express their support for a fully-inclusive ENDA. HRC also plans to release details next week on its participation of a national call-in day organized by a coalition of groups urging members and supporters to call the Congressional switchboard in support of ENDA.

Meanwhile, HRC members and supporters have been overwhelmingly responsive this week to the organization’s national call to action on ENDA by sending off more than 62,000 emails or letters to members of Congress and newspapers urging for swift passage.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The view on the election: We didn’t lose, we’re winning - Mark My Words

By Mark Segal
PGN Publisher

We didn’t lose in Maine. We won. Eight years ago in this column, I wrote that the issue of gay marriage was many years away. What it would take is education, and education on the issue is caused by debate. The referendum in Maine on Tuesday gave us just that — a public forum on the issue, just as it did with Proposition 8 in California. Those were battles along the route to victory, which is equality. So how did we win?

This is a battle and the way to judge how you’re doing is public-opinion polls and the votes of the people. Eight years ago, this column predicted that we were about 10 years away from marriage equality. We actually did a little better thanks to states like Massachusetts and Iowa. But here’s the simple fact: When we started this struggle for marriage equality, our polling numbers were in the low 30s. Today, we’re in the high 40s: That’s a march toward victory. But it takes the long view and it’s not an overnight success just because it’s right. We have to be willing to work for it.

Let’s compare this issue with an issue we’ve been working on in this country since the late 1960s: employment nondiscrimination. In polls in the 1960s, job protection for “homosexuals” was supported by only 27 percent of Americans. You read that right. That was the major issue that we, as a community, kept our eyes on for 40 years. And guess what? We can claim victory. On Tuesday, in all places where nondiscrimination was on the
ballot, we won. And many of the LGBT candidates running for office won.  Again, that is backed up by the polls. Today, if you ask any group of Americans — even limit it to churchgoers — the majority do not believe in any job discrimination against the LGBT community. The latest tracking gives us support in the high 70s.

So here are the answers to Tuesday’s election. We’re gaining each time we make marriage a forum. It won’t happen overnight, but we need to use communication as the tool. Keep the discussion going. But let me point out that the best thing we can do for our community — whether LGBT, married or not, in the military or not — is to end discrimination. Not all of us are married, not all of us are in the military, but most of us are employed and need job protection. We’ve already done the education work on nondiscrimination: Now it’s time to do the political homework and bring it home.

Mark Segal is PGN publisher. He can be reached at

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Advocate: Dueling Thoughts

Yesterday, ex-editor of The Advocate wrote a scathing letter in The Huffington Post regarding the editorial direction of the iconic mag. You be the judge.

"What the hell happened? What colossal cluster of f-ups managed to devastate a magazine that was so important even ten years ago that every serious news media in the world turned to it for back up sourcing when covering gay issues?"

Ironically, Paul Colichman, CEO of Here Media wrote a letter
to his readers. In it he states:

Dear Valued Readers,

Fourteen months have passed since Here Media 
integrated the Advocate and Out brands into 
our company. As we are about to release 
our year-end issues, I thought it a good time 
to share our vision regarding these venerable 
and iconic properties.

Now today, Paul Colichman, CEO of Regent Media, responds 


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wisconsin Supreme Court Rejects Case Seeking to Strip Away Domestic Partnership Protections

Decision Ensures Domestic Partnership Protections for Over 15,000 Wisconsin Same-Sex Couples

(Madison, Wisconsin November 4, 2009) —Today, Lambda Legal and Fair Wisconsin applaud the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision to reject a lawsuit brought by Wisconsin Family Action, an antigay group attempting to strip away newly enacted domestic partnership protections for same-sex couples and their families.

We are pleased that the Court has rejected this challenge to an important law that was validly enacted to protect Wisconsin families,” said Christopher Clark, Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Midwest Regional Office based in Chicago. “Because of today’s ruling, Wisconsin’s same-sex couples and their families who depend on domestic partnership protections can take care of each other in times of illness and crisis. Even with the discriminatory amendment excluding same-sex couples from marriage, the Wisconsin Constitution does not prevent enactment of laws that offer basic decency and security for couples. ”

Fair Wisconsin, the statewide LGBT advocacy group, along with national and regional allies, recently helped enact these important domestic partnership protections for same-sex couples. Fair Wisconsin, vigorous opponents of the 2006 amendment banning marriage equality and civil unions, is defending the new domestic partnership law.  Lambda Legal filed to intervene in the lawsuit on behalf of Fair Wisconsin and its members to protect the few but fundamental protections granted to same-sex couples through the domestic partnership law. After reviewing the case, Wisconsin Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit.

We are elated with this decision from the State Supreme Court,” says Executive Director Katie Belanger. “Over 15,000 same-sex couples in our state need the basic protections domestic partnerships provide.”

Supporting "Traditional Marriage" by Outlawing Divorce

Nothing like putting people's feet to the fire. We thought this initiative would really test how sanctimonious pro-prop 8 voters really are. If it doesn't pass, it could actually work in our favor.

SACRAMENTO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--John Marcotte, a married father of two who voted against last year’s Prop 8, might seem an unusual proponent for a bill designed to further “protect traditional marriage” until he explains how he plans to do it: by outlawing divorce in the state of California.

When I first heard about Prop 8, I figured that most of its proponents were homophobic, or had unfounded fears that allowing same-sex marriage in California would force classrooms to teach about the subject,” says Marcotte. “But when I learned that Prop 8 was really about protecting traditional marriage, I recognized that there was a real opportunity to go a step further and outlaw divorce, since it brings about the death of every traditional marriage.” 

Marcotte worked with an attorney friend to draft the legal language for his bill, The 2010 California Marriage Protection Act, and paid the $200 registration fee out of his own pocket to submit the proposal for consideration. His wife was initially hesitant to have Marcotte spend money on the idea, but donations quickly rolled into a website he created – – that have paid for the expense. The website features video PSAs and T-shirts for sale, including one that states: “You said, ‘Til death do us part.’ You’re not dead yet.”

Just two weeks ago, Marcotte received approval from the office of California Secretary of State Debra Bowen for his marriage initiative, which prepared a legal title and summary ( that will appear on initiative petitions, the first step in placing the bill on the California ballot in 2010. There’s good news for taxpayers too: according to the Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance, the state could save hundreds of millions of dollars annually due to the elimination of divorce court proceedings.

The onus is now upon Marcotte and the bill’s supporters to collect the signatures of 694,354 registered voters, or 8 percent of the total votes cast in the 2006 election, by the March 22 deadline. Due to signature-gathering irregularities, the proponents of the initiative will likely have to collect more than 1 million signatures to advance their proposed text to the ballot for voters to consider. A rally is scheduled for November 14 in Sacramento, where married couples will renew their vows on the steps of the Capitol. Marcotte has already found a number of supporters from both the right and the left and has accrued more than 7,000 followers on Facebook.

For Marcotte, his Marriage Protection Act is but the first step in raising awareness about the next great battle to protect traditional marriage within California but he hopes that other states will take his lead and join in on the movement. “This isn’t about taking away someone’s rights, it’s about what we value as a society,” he says. “We live in a divorce-promiscuous society. It’s on the television, it’s in the movies, the newspapers. It’s even in our kids’ textbooks. Just because almost half of all marriages eventually end in divorce doesn’t make it okay.”

Marriage Equality USA Redoubles our Efforts to Win the Freedom to Marry by Collecting Stories of ‘Happily Ever Afters’

San Francisco:  "Our hearts go out to same-sex couples in Maine who have had their fundamental right to marry stripped away by a slim majority," said Molly McKay, Marriage Equality USA.  "It's absolutely inhumane to put same-sex couples and their children through these grueling campaigns that only serve to promote hatred, ignorance and bigotry.  LGBT Americans deserve the same security and respect that marriage provides to all other families and we will continue on our journey that has brought us this far and continue to share our truth and the impact of discrimination – it is truly only a matter of time.  We, of the generation that has been tasked with the obligation to end legal discrimination against LGBT Americans must learn that life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain…and dance and march and sing and pray is what we will do…and as our most beloved Dr. Martin Luther King has said, we will do so, '[u]ntil justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.'"

"We must continue to heed the advice of Harvey Milk and 'come out' to everyone we meet as supporters of marriage equality, as LGBT people, as sisters, brothers, parents and friends of gay people," said Pamela Brown, Marriage Equality USA Policy Director.  "Last night, we achieved victories in Washington State and Kalamazoo, seven openly gay candidates won in elections spanning the nation from St. Petersburg, Florida to Salt Lake City, Utah and two are in run-off elections in Houston, Texas and the 58th District in Georgia. And as people witness same-sex couples happily married in six states, living their lives, mowing their lawn, paying their taxes and as our families become woven into the seamless web of community and citizenship, the injustice of separate of unequal treatment will grow more and more apparent.  To help highlight our common humanity, Marriage Equality USA is launching a stories project, particularly in states where marriage equality is a reality.  We want to encourage same-sex couples, their families, straight allies, and other community members to share their experiences on the impact and importance of extending the freedom to marry to all loving, committed couples.  The stories we collect will be presented through a digital stories project that we will release during February's Freedom to Marry month."

To have your story including in this project, please complete the on-line survey at:

"The diversity of our experiences is important to share because there are so many people to reach and we must reflect the reality that we are truly everywhere, in every community and demographic.  No one will do this for us, we must be the change we want to see in the world and it begins with sharing our truth.  Your story may be the one that will make a difference for some conflicted but potential marriage equality supporter," said Brown.  "So spread the word and send in your story today."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Equality Across America statement on the election

Today Americans in three locations voted on whether to recognize or deny the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people:

Residents of Maine voted on whether to overturn a state law that recognizes the right of same-sex couples to marry.
Residents of Washington voted on whether to overturn a state law that gives registered domestic partners the same rights, responsibilities, and obligations of married couples.
Residents of Kalamazoo, Michigan, voted on whether to overturn a city ordinance that bars discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

"It's shameful that America lets majorities vote on the rights of minorities," said Flik Huang, 24, a straight woman and San Francisco resident who helped organize the National Equality March.  "Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have been spending precious time and money fighting for something the U.S. Constitution says they should already have, which is equal protection under the law.  It's time for the federal government to end the second-class status of LGBT Americans."

Equality Across America is a network of decentralized organizers in every one of the 435 Congressional districts. These organizers form Congressional District Action Teams (CDATs) that work within their own communities to achieve full equality for LGBT Americans and their families. This includes the right to work our jobs and go to school free of harassment and discrimination; the right to safety in our daily lives, and protection from hate crimes; the right to equitable healthcare, and the right to donate blood; the right to equitable immigration policies; the right to marry; and the right to serve in the military openly.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Lesbian Lip Service

Listen at  

Lesbian Lip Service Debut Show Hosts Deita Klaus, and New LLS Hosts Chrissy & Jennifer!

News, Updates, Education, Information and New Music for the LGBT community.  Feature on the LA Gay & Lesbian Center in Hollywood.

Featuring music from April March, Fergie, Erasure, Hey Monday, Pink, The 88, Phoenix, Viva Voce, Deer Tick, Reel Big Fish, White Rabbits, & Julieta Venegas

Join Lesbian Lip Service Show at

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

President Obama Signs Historic Hate Crime Legislation - Statement from Judy Shepard

After a decade of debate, persistent advocacy and 14 separate congressional floor votes, President Barack Obama today signed into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in a White House ceremony attended by the Shepard and Byrd families.

When Dennis and I started calling 10 years ago for federal action to prevent and properly prosecute hate crimes against gay, lesbian and transgendered Americans, we never imagined it would take this long,” said Judy Shepard, Matthew’s mother and the president of the Matthew Shepard Foundation Board of Directors.

The legislation went through so many versions and so many votes that we had to constantly keep our hopes in check to keep from getting discouraged,” she continued. “But with President Obama’s support and the continually growing bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate lining up behind the bill this year, it became clear that 2009 was the year it would finally happen.”

The legislation allows federal authorities to pursue charges in violent crimes motivated by the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability, in cases where local authorities cannot or will not secure appropriate convictions. It also opens up federal aid to local law enforcement for training, prevention and investigation.

We are incredibly grateful to Congress and the president for taking this step forward on behalf of hate crime victims and their families, especially given the continuing attacks on people simply for living their lives openly and honestly,” Shepard added. “But each of us can and must do much more to ensure true equality for all Americans.”

The Matthew Shepard Foundation’s work for an inclusive society continues after passage of this landmark legislation. In addition to advocating for workplace and housing equality, equal rights for same-sex couples, and an end to the ban on gay and lesbian military service, the Foundation continues to reach out to schools and corporations nationwide to encourage respect for human dignity and differences.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Report on Domestic Violence in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Communities in U.S. to be released

Thursday October 29   11:00 am PST   2:00 pm EST
Call-In Number:  888.208.1711 code: 2548669

Report on Domestic Violence in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Communities in U.S. to be released

3,419 cases of domestic violence reported; Police misconduct reports rose by 93%

What:  Audio Press Conference 
Release of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Domestic Violence in the U.S. in 2008: A Report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs

Who:  National Coalition of Anti-Violence Program (NCAVP) representatives
Terra Slavin, Lead Staff Attorney, Domestic Violence Legal Advocacy Project, Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center
Sharon Stapel, Executive Director, New York City Anti-Violence Project
Kristin Tucker, Program Manager, Northwest Network of Bisexual, Transgender, Lesbian and Gay Survivors of Abuse, Seattle
TBA:  Survivor(s) of domestic violence, client service provider

When:  Thursday October 29, 2009
11:00am PST 2:00 pm EST

Where:  Call-In Number:  888.208.1711 code: 2548669

Why:  Report findings reveal a total of 3,419 domestic violence incidents reported in 2008; reported incidents of police misconduct rose 93%.  Anti-violence programs across the country reported an increasing demand from LGBTQ communities of color, young, elder, disabled, and immigrant victims of domestic violence.  Culturally competent services and well resourced anti-violence programs addressing the needs of LGBTQ survivors of violence are a critical necessity. 

This report is a product of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), a network of over 35 anti-violence organizations that monitor, respond to, and work to end hate and domestic violence, HIV-related violence, and other forms of violence affecting LGBTQ communities.

Also join Sharon Stapel, Terra Slavin, Kristin Tucker and moderator Darren Mitchell for the training “Understanding and Addressing LGBT Domestic Violence” at the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute on Thursday, October 29 from 6:30-8:30pm.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

HRC Applauds Creation of LGBT Elders Resource Center at Department of Health and Human Services

Grant Program Will Assist LGBT Organizations, Mainstream Aging Service Providers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Department of Health and Human Services announced plans to establish a national resource center to help communities support and serve their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) elders.  Through its Administration on Aging, HHS will award a single resource grant in the amount of $250,000 annually, depending on the availability of funds.  According to HHS, the center will provide resources to LGBT organizations, as well assisting mainstream aging services providers in developing cultural competence in serving LGBT elders.

Despite the many advances our community has seen, LGBT elders face significant discrimination from senior care providers, including in places where we are most vulnerable, such as assisted living facilities and end-of-life care,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.  “As more and more openly LGBT people reach their later years, it is incredibly important to ensure that we are treated with dignity, respect and fairness.  We applaud HHS for taking this important step on behalf of older LGBT Americans.”

HRC and Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) host a collaborative forum on LGBT aging issues, available at  As part of the New Beginning Initiative, coordinated by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, SAGE has advocated for policy changes that would benefit LGBT elders.  Earlier this month, the Administration on Aging issued the first-ever grant focused on LGBT aging to the Los Angeles LGBT Community Service Center. 

Senate Achieves Cloture on DoD Conference Report Including Hate Crimes Provision

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate today achieved cloture on the Department of Defense Authorization Conference Report of which the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act is a part by a vote of 64 to 35.  The Senate will now proceed with debate on the Conference Report followed by a vote on final passage.  Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese released the following statement:

While there is strong support for the hate crimes provision, today’s cloture vote in the Senate demonstrates that those in the civil rights community need to remain ever vigilant.  While the Senate achieved cloture, it is clear that the opposition remains strong.  We look forward to final passage when the critical hate crimes legislation will be on its way to the President’s desk.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Victory! Appellate Court Strikes Down “Doctor's Note” Requirement for Transgender Name Changes

A New York State appeals court today struck down a lower court's requirement that transgender people seeking to change their names provide medical evidence of their need for the name change. The ruling was handed down in an appeal we filed on behalf of Olin Winn-Ritzenberg, a transgender man whose petition to change his name to Olin was denied by the lower court because he had failed to provide a letter from a doctor, therapist or social worker establishing his need to change his name.

But the appellate court wrote, "[t]here is no sound basis in law or policy to engraft upon the statutory provisions an additional requirement that a transgendered-petitioner present medical substantiation for the desired name change." The court's decision sends a powerful message that transgender people must be treated equally and that they cannot be subjected to different legal requirements than everyone else. People's names are fundamental to their identities. This decision confirms that each one of us has the right to be known by a name we choose. That decision can't be second-guessed by doctors, therapists or anyone else simply because someone is transgender.

Upon learning of the ruling, Olin said, "This means that I can finally change my name and move forward with my life. My gender transition has been a very personal journey, and no one is in a better position to decide that I need to change my name than I am."

We were lucky to have the assistance of some incredibly talented lawyers, including Brenna DeVaney, Benjamin Edwards, Daniel Gonen, and Janson Mao, who served with us as Olin's co-counsel. Daniel admirably argued the appeal. And our friends at Debevoise & Plimpton and Lambda Legal submitted a stellar brief in support of Olin's appeal. You can read the appeal brief we submitted on Olin's behalf here.

We'd be remiss if we failed to acknowledge Olin's perseverance throughout the long appeal process. Instead of complying with a lower court requirement that we all knew was unjust (and that had been imposed upon many other people), he chose to fight it, delaying his own name change for many months to finally put an end to the practice of subjecting transgender name change applicants to this burdensome and demeaning doctor's note requirement. Thank you, Olin!

Olin changed his name through TLDEF's Name Change Project, which provides free and low-cost name changes by matching transgender community members in New York City with lawyers in private practice who provide their services free of charge. If you or someone you know needs help with a name change, please contact us.

Many months ago, when we first filed this appeal, we asked the question, "Who Decides?" Who decides what your gender identity is? Doctors, government officials, and agency administrators? Or each one of us as autonomous individuals? After many months, we're very happy to have closed the circle with a victory for freedom and self-determination.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Gays Prefer Working in States with Marriage Equality

Published on October 19, 2009
Other factors being equal, 71% of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) adults would prefer a job with an employer based in a state where marriage equality is recognized over an employer based in a state that does not yet recognize marriage equality for same-sex couples, according to the 2009 Out & Equal Workplace Survey, conducted jointly by Harris Interactive, Out & Equal, and Witeck-Combs Communication.
When the same question is asked of lesbian and gay adults only, 79% would prefer working for an employer based in a state allowing same-sex marriage:

Read on...

Family Equality Council eager to work with Rep. Stark on the Every Child Deserves a Family Act

Statement from Executive Director Jennifer Chrisler;

Boston, MA (October 19, 2009)—Family Equality Council, the national organization working to secure equality for LGBT families, is eager to work with Representative Stark (D-CA) on the Every Child Deserves a Family Act (HR 3827). Non-discrimination in adoption is a national child welfare issue of utmost importance and needs to be addressed at the federal level. Currently there are an estimated 500,000 children in the United States foster care system and over 129,000 are legally available for adoption. Unfortunately nearly 25,000 foster children a year are “aged out” of the system and never find a permanent family. These children vary in age, race, and family history but all share a common need for loving homes with loving parents.

Currently there are an estimated 2 million children being raised by lesbian or gay parents, 65,500 of which are adopted. Lesbian and gay parents live in 99.9% of counties across the U.S. Adoption policies with regards to LGBT parents vary from state to state. Although Florida is the only state with an express ban on adoption by LGBT individuals, as of 2008, seven states either expressly restrict adoption by LGBT couples or had laws and policies that may have the effect of restricting LGBT parents from adopting. State laws and regulations are not the only barriers facing LGBT individuals. One-third of child welfare agencies currently reject LGBT applicants, citing state law, a policy of placing children with married-heterosexual only couples, or a conflict with the religious beliefs associated with the agency,.

LGBT families are also raising an estimated 3% of children in the foster care system. As of 2007, four states also restrict LGBT individuals from becoming foster parents. To learn more on state specific LGBT adoption and foster care policies and laws visit

Thirty years of scientific research shows overwhelmingly that children raised in same-sex headed households do just as well emotionally and psychologically as children raised in heterosexual households. Leading child welfare organizations support adoption by lesbian and gay men, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, Child Welfare League of America, North American Council on Adoptable Children, American Psychological Association, American Bar Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychoanalytic Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Statement of Jennifer Chrisler, Executive Director, Family Equality Council:

All decisions concerning the health and welfare of the country’s most vulnerable children should be made solely with their best interest in mind. Family Equality Council looks forward to working with Congressman Stark and House Bill 3827 as an opportunity to educate members of Congress and the public about why non-discrimination in adoption is a national child welfare issue that needs to be addressed.”

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mr. President here's the LGBT timeline

By Mark Segal

There are 2.7-million active servicemembers and reservists in the U.S. military. For debate purposes, let’s say 5-percent (use whatever figure you wish here) are gay, lesbian or bisexual and come under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” If every one were discharged, that’s 135,000 possible casualties of the military’s ban on openly gay servicemembers.
Now, let me give you another number. The U.S. population is about 300 million. Let’s use that same 5 percent figure for the LGBT community and do the math — presto, you have a figure of about 15 million LGBT U.S. citizens. Now, 21 states and the District of Columbia have passed nondiscrimination laws, meaning that 29 states give no job protection to LGBT workers. Given population stats, let’s say that translates to about 50 percent of the U.S. population. Take that 15 million and divide in half, and we now know that 7.5 million LGBT U.S. citizens have no job protection against discrimination.
Now, we could go state by state and attempt to give job security to our community that way, but guess what? There are states that will not protect our citizens, and therefore we need the national law. We’re not the first community that came to that conclusion. In the 1960s, the black civil-rights movement understood this, and it resulted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, then the National Voting Rights Act of 1965.
So we have the facts, we have the figures: How do we proceed? Once again, it’s time for us to be creative.
The pending Employment Non-Discrimination Act legislation has a section that specifically exempts “members of the Armed Forces.”
So, we remove this section, or we change the wording; maybe: “The President will confer with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Congress regarding “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The legislation is passed and the president signs it and adds a signing statement, such as, “It is my understanding that this includes the U.S. military and voids ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’” You read that right. The president can keep his promise to repeal the ban and we can end both forms of discrimination in one bill.
Doing it this way will give the moderates who want to vote for nondiscrimination but not repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” a way to do that. It all falls on the shoulders of the president. It’s completely legal and done with a wink and a nod. Also, Washington appreciates a move like this: It lets so many off the hook. They get to say to their constituents — either us or the right wing — they were for it, but not for the other half. They can’t lose.
So whatever your position or priority is, it’s time to do the math and strategize on how to take action. You can yell all you want, but passing legislation takes planning, strategy and knowing your priorities, and most of all, knowing how to count the votes you need to achieve them.

One last thought. I’m not willing to wait seven years for this work to be completed. If the White House and HRC won’t give a deadline, then we should. Maybe three years is an appropriate deadline since we’ll have to decide by then whether to vote or just sit on our hands. n

Mark Segal is the former President of both the National Gay Newspaper Guild and the National Gay Press association.  He served on the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Publishers associate and is on boards at Suburban newspapers of America.  He is the longest serving member of the LGBT press celebrating 34 years as publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News.

Monday, October 12, 2009


California Becomes First State to Recognize LGBT Leader

SACRAMENTO – Two bills by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) to bring recognition to Harvey Milk and out-of-state same sex marriages were signed into law late yesterday.  Governor Schwarzenegger approved SB 572 (Chapter 626) to create Harvey Milk Day, a day of special of special significance in California honoring the state’s first openly gay elected official.  Also approved by the Governor was SB 54 (Chapter 625) which resolves ambiguities about how out-of-state same-sex marriages will be recognized in California.

I am pleased the Governor recognized the historic and international nature of Harvey Milk’s contributions and legacy” said Senator Leno, Chair of California’s LGBT Legislative Caucus. “Milk is an inspiration to people worldwide who believe in fairness and equality and he fought for many of the issues we value today, including access to education, public transportation, affordable housing and protecting the environment.”

SB 572 recognizes Harvey Milk’s life and contributions to the state by designating May 22 as a day of special significance.

Senator Leno’s bill to establish the legal status of out-of –state marriages was also signed into law.  Senate Bill 54 will clarify that same-sex couples who married outside of California before Proposition 8 went into effect last year are recognized as married spouses, not unlike the 18,000 same-sex marriages performed in California. The legislation also confirms that same-sex couples who married outside California after Prop 8 went into effect on November 5, 2008, or plan to do so in the future, must receive the same rights, protections, benefits, obligations and responsibilities afforded to opposite-sex spouses, with the sole exception of the designation of “marriage.”

I applaud the Governor for ending the legal limbo in which many married same-sex couples are finding themselves.  When California offered marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2008, spouses who were already married in another state or country were prohibited from re-marrying in California,” said Senator Leno. “Now those couples and their families will receive the rights and protections under the law to which they are entitled. This legislation ensures that same-sex couples are protected by existing California law that recognizes all marriages equally, regardless of where they are performed.”

Both bills were sponsored by Equality California and were co-authored by members of the LGBT Legislative Caucus, including Senator Christine Kehoe and Assemblymembers Tom Ammiano and John A. Pérez.  Both bills take effect on January 1, 2010.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Log Cabin Republicans Respond To Obama's HRC Speech


(Washington, DC) - Log Cabin Republicans issued the following statement in response to President Obama's speech Saturday at the Human Rights Campaign's gala:

"President Obama may have the highest level of respect for our community, but his lack of actual progress overshadows any kind of campaign-style promises he may make," commented Terry Hamilton - Log Cabin Republicans National Board Chairman. "Barack Obama is the President now - he gave the same speech tonight that we have heard many times before. Being an ally means that you need to need to not just 'have gay friends' but know what we are experiencing, and most importantly to do something about it."

President Obama tonight promised to repeal the damaging & dangerous "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Currently, Log Cabin Republicans is the only organization with an active lawsuit given standing by the federal courts challenging the military's discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and was the first case introduced on the issue after the landmark Lawrence decision.

Despite the President's promise this evening, he has instructed his Justice Department to fight Log Cabin's lawsuit, as well as other court cases challenging this LGBT discriminatory policies. Find more information at :

"If President Obama is serious about repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", he can take action tomorrow and instruct his Justice Department to drop its challenge to our case," says Hamilton.

Log Cabin Republicans National Spokesperson Charles T. Moran comments -

"Gays and lesbians are not looking for the same 'hope and change rhetoric' that we've heard for so long.  The President's speech tonight rings of hollow promises that we have all heard before. While he gives his speech tonight at the HRC, his senior aides in the White House are engaged in a political game shutting down and putting the breaks on any substantive progress in efforts to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell', 'Defense of Marriage Act' and pass employment non-discrimination through legislative and judicial channels. It is time that President Obama stops talking about bringing forth a 'better America' and starts making it happen."

Mitchell Gold Statement On Obama

President draws a line in the sand and spits in the eye the religious bigots
that do us harm, says founder of Faith In America

President Obama's speech last evening at the HRC dinner drew a clear line in
the sand for the world to see: this administration believes in and will work
with the LGBT community and our allies to achieve full equality under the
law for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. President Obama’s
presence and words represented his recognition that LGBT people are a normal
part of our diverse society.

This speech, in front of over 3000 people attendees and viewed by millions
around the world, made it abundantly clear that we are looking at a new era
for civil rights for LGBT people. We want to highlight one of the most
important parts of President Obama’s speech that might be overlooked in the
policy-oriented and political language of incremental progress and change.

President Obama specifically condemned the lies and divisiveness used by our
opponents – such as those used in anti-marriage equality ads from Maine to
California and from Washington State to the nation’s Capitol. His statements
in this regard were a direct rebuke and rejection of the religion-based
bigotry that causes direct harm to LGBT individuals and families every day.
President Obama called out the “pink elephant” of religion based bigotry
which is the major obstacle to our community achieving full civil equality

The James Dobsons, Rick Warrens, Bishop Harry Jacksons and others of their
ilk are now officially on notice. The religion-based bigotry they use to
harm our families and community every day will have no sway on this White
House. It is now in our hands to continue to educate the public, tell our
stories and stand up to bigotry.

Does this mean I am satisfied by this one speech? Of course not. Does this
mean we have come anywhere close to achieving our goals? Absolutely not.

Nevertheless, in his first speech as a Nobel Laureate, President Obama made
it clear to the world that his administration will do everything in its
power to ensure the passage of federal legislation needed to combat hate
crimes, to protect LGBT people in the workplace, to allow us to serve openly
in the military, and to recognize our relationships are equal to those of
heterosexuals under the law.

As President Obama said himself, LGBT people and our allies have waited far
too long for equality and that we should be impatient. He also renewed his
call on us to continue to challenge our leaders. We have a responsibility in
this ourselves. We must – during today’s National Equality March and every
day thereafter - continue to tell our stories to our families, friends,
communities and our elected officials, to pressure our Congressional
representatives, and to hold this President accountable for his promises.

We fully expect to see historic change in the status of LGBT people in this
country, accomplishments worthy of a people with a Nobel Laureate as our
President. The world is watching and is expecting nothing less.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

HRC Welcomes Obama at National Dinner

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, released the following statement tonight after President Barack Obama spoke at the 13th Annual National Dinner.

"Tonight, President  Obama told LGBT Americans that his commitment to ending discrimination in the military, in the workplace and for loving couples and their families is 'unwavering.'  He made it crystal clear that he is our strongest ally in this fight, that he understands and, in fact, encourages our activism and our voice even when we’re impatient with the pace of change.  But these remarks weren’t just for us, they were directed to all Americans who share his dream and ours of a country where “no one is denied their basic rights, in which all of us are free to live and love as we see fit.

"And we heard unequivocally  about the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: 'I am working with the Pentagon, its leadership and members of the House and Senate to end this policy. I will end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  That is my commitment to you.'

"Finally, we heard something quite remarkable from the President:  'You will see a time in which we as a nation finally recognize relationships between two men or two women as just as real and admirable as relationships between a man and a woman.'

"This was a historic night when we felt the full embrace and commitment of the President of the United States. It’s simply unprecedented."

Solomnese Gets A Whipping By Gay Blogger

Queerty was all up in arms regarding HRC President, Joe Solomnese's recent email to supporters on Obama.

Solomneses writes:

I am sure of this: on January 19, 2017, I will look back on the President's address to my community as an affirmation of his pledge to be our ally. I will remember it as the day when we all stood together and committed to finish what Senator Kennedy called our unfinished business. And I am sure of this: on January 19, 2017, I will also look back on many other victories that President Barack Obama made possible.

Queerty responds with:

--should be self-evident. That note, from HRC's Joe Solmonese, effectively lets Obama off the hook for your LGBT rights until the last day of his (not definite) second term. Yes, Solmonese is saying we will judge Obama's legacy on that date. But you know who can't wait for 2017 for Obama to come around? The same people who supposedly aren't facing "immediate threats" to their civil rights: American soldiers, parents who yearn to adopt, couples who are not attached under the law, employees who can be fired at a moment's notice because they are queer.

It's preposterous that an organization charged with defending and demanding the rights of LGBT Americans — and already facing allegations of telling Obama to give preference to some gay rights legislation while ignoring others — just told the entire world that the gay community can wait until Obama is moving out of the White House to expect our rights. The ramifications of HRC's message are dire; the media and other gay organizations around the world take cues from this organization, and if this is the agenda they are pushing, we worry it'll reverberate into a message the "gay community" is behind.

Read on....

Friday, October 9, 2009

GLTNewsNow has arrived!

After much planning and development, GLTNewsNow – your new daily GLBT news source for San Diego County and beyond – has launched and is now online at

The new site features news, politics, lifestyle, social and entertainment columns from many well-known and well-connected contributors including Councilmember Todd Gloria, City Commissioner Nicole Murray-Ramirez, Aaron Heier, Stephen Whitburn, Kurt Cunningham, Joseph Rocha, Michael Kimmel, Steven Petrow and others.

Visit for continuing coverage of this weekend's National Equality March in Washington, D.C., brough to you by N.E.M. co-chair Nicole Murray-Ramirez.

U.S. Court of Appeals Hears Arguments in Lambda Legal's Case Seeking Birth Certificate for Child Adopted by Two Fathers

Lower court ruled state must issue birth certificate to same-sex adoptive
parents of baby boy

(New Orleans, October 7, 2009) – A three-member panel of federal judges in
the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard today from attorneys on both sides
regarding Lambda Legal’s lawsuit against the Louisiana Registrar of Vital
Statistics for refusing to respect the New York adoption by a same-sex
couple of a Louisiana-born baby boy.

"Decades ago, our U.S. Supreme Court rejected as unconstitutional the
premise that a state may inflict harm on children solely as a way to
express disapproval of their parents,
” Ken Upton, Supervising Senior Staff
Attorney for Lambda Legal, told the court.  "Ironically, one of the
earliest of those cases was against the State of Louisiana.  The Registrar's policy
appears to be a throwback to that long discredited conduct."

Lambda Legal represents San Diego residents Oren Adar and Mickey Smith in
their case against Louisiana State Registrar Darlene Smith.  Adar and Smith
are a gay couple who adopted their Louisiana-born son in 2006 in a New
York, where a judge issued an adoption decree.  When the couple attempted
to get a new birth certificate for their child, in part so Smith could add
his son to his health insurance, the registrar’s office told him that
Louisiana does not recognize adoption by unmarried parents and so could not
issue it.

"You really have to wonder why the attorney general is fighting this so
" said Upton.  "The U.S. Constitution spells out that state
officials must respect final judgments entered in other states.  This
includes adoption decrees.

Lambda Legal filed suit on behalf of Adar and Smith in October 2007, saying
that the registrar was violating the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the
U.S. Constitution by refusing to recognize the New York adoption.  The
Constitution requires that judgments and orders issued by a court in one
state be legally binding in other states as well.  The Louisiana attorney
general disagreed, and advised the registrar that she did not have to honor
an adoption from another state that would not have been granted under
Louisiana law had the couple lived and adopted there.  Last December, U.S.
District Judge Jay Zainey ruled against the registrar and issued a summary
judgment ordering her to issue a new birth certificate identifying both
Oren Adar and Mickey Smith as the boy’s parents, saying her continued
failure to do so violated the U.S. Constitution.  The attorney general
appealed the case.

Upton also represented Lambda Legal before the 10th Circuit in Finstuen v.
Crutcher, another case involving same-sex couples with adopted children.
The court  rejected the Oklahoma Department of Health’s challenge to a
lower court decision striking down an Oklahoma law so extreme that it
threatened to make children adopted by same-sex couples in other states
legal orphans when the families are in Oklahoma.  The ruling is important
not only in Oklahoma, but also to families across the United States,
including in Seattle and Houston, home to two of the families who joined in
the suit.

Kenneth D. Upton, Jr., Supervising Senior Staff Attorney is handling the
case for Lambda Legal. He is joined by Regina O. Matthews and Spencer R.
Doody of Martzell & Bickford in New Orleans.  The case is Adar v. Smith.