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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Human Rights Campaign Completes “Out In Scripture” Collection

LGBT community resource has been signature part of Religion & Faith Program

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, announced today the release of the complete “Out In Scripture” collection. For the past three years, week-by-week, the HRC Religion & Faith program provided conversations on Bible passages from more than 100 scholars and pastors representing 11 denominations. These conversations are now available in a complete collection online at

This unique collection showcases the extraordinary momentum we’re seeing by people of faith committed to LGBT equality,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Through this resource we are helping to assure that no one will again have to choose between who they are and what they believe.

Over the years my spiritual life and preaching has been transformed by ‘Out In Scripture,’” said Harry Knox, Director of HRC’s Religion and Faith Program. “This is one of our signature projects. As editor Sidney Fowler said, ‘The Bible is not about beating you up, but lifting us all up. It includes the seeds of liberation and justice.’ Be prepared to be transformed as well.”

The collection includes 175 conversations that span Bible readings organized according to the Revised Common Lectionary. The lectionary is used by numerous Christian denominations to guide worship and preaching.

Oral Arguments Heard Today in Case to End Florida's Adoption Ban

The ACLU LGBT Advocacy Project attorneys urged Florida's Third District Court of Appeal today to support the ruling from Judge Cindy Lederman granting two brothers the right to stay with their gay adoptive parent. Judge Lederman's ruling in November 2008 overturned a 31-year-old Florida Statute that bans gay, lesbian, and bisexual Floridians from adopting. Martin Gill, the foster parent that was awarded custody of the children, has cared for the boys for nearly five years.

"Florida's law harms children by shrinking the pool of otherwise qualified, safe, secure and loving homes simply on the basis of sexual orientation. Florida's children deserve permanent forever homes." said Cathy James, founder and board member of Securing Our Children's Rights, Inc. (SOCR).

As we announced in July, SOCR will partner with the ACLU on a grass-roots public awareness campaign of Florida's ban on adoption by gay, lesbian and bi-sexual Floridians. The campaign will be a series of five events around the state aimed at training participants to communicate effectively about the harmful Florida adoption ban and why it must be repealed.

About the ACLU Foundation of Florida's LGBT Advocacy Project
The ACLUFoundation of Florida is freedom's watchdog, working daily in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend individual rights and personal freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. For additional information, visit our web site at:

The ACLU Foundation of Florida's LGBT Advocacy Project has worked since 2005 to protect the legal rights of Florida's LGBT community and is the leading organization protecting gay kids from discrimination and harassment. For additional information, visit our web site at:

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Lutheran Church is More Gay-Friendly

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted to allow members in monogamous same-sex relationships to become part of the clergy.

This is a great forward-looking statement on the success of the Gay-acceptance movement in America. Despite all of the anti-gay scripture in the Bible, 68 percent of the church's delegates voted for this progressive measure.

Now if a religion can come out of the ice age, what is holding back the U.S. government on issues such as ENDA, DOMA and DADT? Let's just hope that the Hill is listening because us Gays are watching.


August 18, New York, NY….The Ali Forney Center (AFC), the nation's largest organization dedicated to homeless LGBT youth, will formally announce it's plan to name a residence for LGBT youth in honor of Bea Arthur at her memorial service on September 14th at the Majestic Theater in New York City. The Ali Forney Center is working with a group of Bea's close friends and colleagues to plan the memorial service.

"Bea Arthur was tremendously kind and generous to the Ali Forney Center" says Carl Siciliano, AFC Founder and Executive Director. "The caring and concern that Bea expressed for our kids meant the world to us, and we are thrilled to be able to give honor to her memory in this way".

In November of 2005, Bea flew to New York City from her home in Los Angeles in order to give a special benefit performance of her one-woman show. The performance raised over $40,000 for the Ali Forney Center. In an interview for Next Magazine Bea explained her decision to offer her support "I'm very, very involved in charities involving youth and the plight of foster children. But these kids at the Ali Forney Center are literally dumped by their families because of the fact that they are lesbian, gay, or transgender - this organization really is saving lives." Bea continued to offer her support, both as a donor and as an advocate. In one of her very last interviews, published in the New York Blade in May 2008, Bea spoke with pride of having done the benefit for AFC, and indicated that she would do anything to help gay kids disowned by their parents.

The Ali Forney Center currently offers eight residential sites in New York City to provide shelter and housing to homeless LGBT youth, all of which it rents. AFC has recently received generous financial support from the Oak Foundation to support a plan to purchase housing sites. The Ali Forney Center is committed to naming its first purchased site the Bea Arthur Residence for LGBT Youth.

"Before Bea became involved with us, we only had two sites, and could only shelter 12 kids." says Siciliano. "We were struggling to respond to an epidemic of homelessness that was not very well understood, even in the LGBT community. Bea's support and advocacy really helped raise awareness in our community. Bea Arthur played a crucial part in our efforts to expand our capacity to respond to the hundreds of LGBT youths who come to us for help. She feels very much like a patron saint!"

The Ali Forney Center is the nation's largest organization dedicated to homeless LGBT youth. AFC currently provides eight residential sites offering emergency shelter and longer-term housing, and additionally provides two drop-in centers which offer medical care, mental health treatment, HIV prevention, testing and treatment, housing and benefit assistance, and job training and placement services. The mission of the Ali Forney Center is to help homeless LGBT youth be safe and become independent as they move from adolescence to adulthood. Ali Forney was a queer youth who was murdered on the streets in 1997, when there was no safe shelter for LGBT youth in NYC.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Resolution Supports Fully Inclusive Employment in CA

August 18, 2009 – Sen. Mark DeSaulnier introduced a resolution today encouraging Congress to pass and the President to sign the Federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2009.

Senate Resolution 27 is sponsored by Equality California and co-authored by the Chair of the Legislative LGBT Caucus Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco.

The federal act it supports would prohibit workplace discrimination based on an employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Sexual orientation and gender identity have nothing to do with someone’s ability to work,” said Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, who chairs the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee. “Sexual orientation and gender identity are of no more significance than age, color or religion. The only thing that should matter in the workplace is job performance.”

Federal law already protects people from discrimination due to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, military service or genetic information.

California workplace laws protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Nineteen other states, however, have no employment protections whatsoever for gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender employees.

In addition to Leno, SR 27 has garnered the support of LGBT Caucus member Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Lambda Legal: Administration DOMA Brief a Mixed Bag

"Serious conversation must continue."

(Los Angeles, August 17, 2009) — In response to a brief filed today by the
Obama Administration in a federal challenge to the federal so-called
"Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA), Lambda Legal Marriage Project Director
Jenny Pizer issued the following statement:

"While there is much to like in today’s brief filed by the Obama
Administration, we are disappointed that it continues to argue that antigay
discrimination does not deserve serious constitutional scrutiny. The brief
relies on old decisions that no longer apply, and on low level court
decisions that never would have controlled. Lambda Legal and other LGBT
groups had serious conversations with the administration after the first
brief was filed and we appreciate the progress made since then. But,
clearly, serious conversation must continue.

Still, the brief is an enormous improvement on the one filed by the Justice
Department last June. It is important that the administration repudiated
the defamatory claims by antigay groups that denying same-sex couples
equality somehow benefits children, and also has stated outright what we
all know: DOMA discriminates. It is not -- as the prior brief said -- a
"neutral," nondiscriminatory policy that treats gay and straight people the

These are significant changes in the administration's position that we
welcome. At recent meetings with Department of Justice leadership and
White House officials, attorneys from Lambda Legal and other groups
discussed the serious constitutional and policy problems with the first
brief. The administration listened to our concerns, and removed some of
the offensive approaches taken before in defense of a statute the president
has said he strongly opposes and wants to see repealed. DOMA must be
repealed promptly on behalf of the thousands of American families hurting
every day because their national government discriminates against them. We
appreciate the statement released today by the President and call on him to
continue to provide leadership toward repeal and an end to the
discrimination against these American families."

Monday, August 10, 2009

Status of ENDA: Close, but more work needed

We are coming into the second week of August, and support for ENDA among legislators is slowly inching up. Here's the status.


In the House, where we need 218 yes votes, there are 171 confirmed yes, and another 36 who will probably vote yes, though they have not yet confirmed this, making a total of 207 likely yes votes. Not enough. 76 Representatives are unconfirmed either way, and these need to be persuaded by you. Yolu can see the spreadsheet with this info at


In the Senate, where we need 60 yes votes because of the likely Republic filibuster that requires 60 votes to stop, there are 46 confirmed yes votes, and another 11 likely yes votes, making a total of 57 likely yes votes. Not enough. 53 Senators are unconfirmed either way, and these need to be persuaded by you. You can see the spreadsheet with this info at


The key fight is going to be in the Senate. Please take whatever time you can to call the Senate swing votes, which you can find here:

Senate -

Please post any information you have on our Wall so I can update the spreadsheet.

Thank you for your support of an inclusive ENDA.

Co-Chair, Inclusive ENDA

Monday, August 3, 2009

Statement on Nomination of Lesbian and Gay Priests in Episcopal Church

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, released the following statement today on the nomination of three openly lesbian and gay priests as bishops, one from Minnesota and two from Los Angeles, by the Episcopal Church. A moratorium on ordaining lesbians and gays into the church was recently lifted after being adopted three years ago when the church’s first and only openly gay bishop was ordained, V. Gene Robinson of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire.

"We applaud the Diocese of Minnesota and the Diocese of Los Angeles for nominating openly gay and lesbian priests as part of a diverse, highly qualified slate of candidates," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "The Episcopal church is modeling for denominations and religions across the country how our faiths can be open and inclusive of all people. We are deeply grateful to the painstaking work of LGBT Episcopalian affinity and advocacy group, Integrity, for making this day possible. As our Religion Council member and President of Integrity, Rev. Susan Russell, writes 'the season of fasting at the expense of the vocations of gays and lesbians in the Episcopal Church is at an end.'"

LGBT Workplace Discrimination Ban Is At Hand

If you aren't already familiar with the anagram, ENDA , it refers to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which has floated in and out of Congress under different names for the past 30 years. Yes LGBT readers, you can still be fired in many states in the U.S. merely because you are Gay or Lesbian.

The bill is active again now and thank God, we have a Democratic-controlled Congress. H.R. 2017 could very well be voted on in the Fall. As much as it may be a no-brainer for us equality-minded folks, there are still a number of Congressmen who remain undecided and need a little nudge.

Dr. Jillian Weiss is the Co-Chair of Inclusive ENDA, a Facebook group dedicated towards getting ENDA passed. Her time and effort should be applauded as the group now has over 3,000 members and Dr. Weiss is dilligent in getting the status of the bill out to everyone.

3,000 is nice, but considering our current numbers of 10-14 million Gays in America, let's not make the same apathetic mistake that some of us made in California with Prop 8. "Oh, it will pass, this is California!"

As the Editor of Echelon, I have always believed that the way to attain our equal rights across the board will be achieved through economic prowess.

As obvious as ENDA is to all of us, we still don't have the votes for it to pass yet. In the latest email sent by Dr. Weiss, she calculates that we are only 14 votes shy of it barely passing. She also provides a list of politicians who are still on the fence.

We need to get behind this one. In the list of unconfirmed reps they provide a link for you to send an email asking your Congressman to confirm their support for the Employment Non Discrimination Act H.R. 3017. So please visit the page, see if your rep is on it and if so, send the email. And if you are on Facebook, join the group.