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Friday, October 29, 2010

Gov. Rendell on LGBT pub crawl

by Mark Segal

On Oct. 30, Gov. Rendell will do an LGBT pub crawl to help get out the LGBT vote for the Nov. 2 election, starting at 10 p.m. at Q Lounge, 1234 Locust St.

What’s remarkable about this is that it’s not remarkable for this governor. Ed has been doing gay bar crawls since he first ran for office in the 1980s. And he’s done so in each of his elections and also in those where, like this one, he is not running. He’s a great believer in the LGBT community and its voting numbers. It’s served him well in his political career and he, in return, has supported this community.

Thanks to Ed and others in the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Democratic Party, our community is included in what is referred to as the Democratic Coalition. It’s the kind of recognition that I hope someday the Republican Party will give to its LGBT members.

And while we commend Gov. Ed on his outreach, we should be asking why more elected officials don’t do the same. Here in Philly, it’s routine. What about New York City, Los Angeles or Chicago? Philly is light years ahead. Maybe it took a governor who saw the future of civil rights back in the 1980s.

When Ed asked me to arrange that first bar tour some 30 years ago, it had never been done before and we wondered what the reaction would be. The LGBT community was, as expected, welcoming. Ed and his staff were delighted with the acceptance and then a TV crew showed up unexpectedly. Ed’s staff wanted to hustle him out of there, but instead Ed decided to speak on camera. That was a defining moment in Pennsylvania politics and civil rights. So if you think a gay pub crawl isn’t important, think again.

Mark Segal is PGN publisher. He is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media, having just received the 2010 Columnist of the Year Award from the 2,000-member Suburban Newspapers of America. He can be reached at

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Human Rights Campaign Statement on Clint McCance Resignation

WASHINGTON – Clint McCance, appearing on Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN this evening, announced that he will resign from the Midland School Board. The controversy erupted when McCance unleashed an anti-gay tirade on Facebook in response to a rash of bullying-related suicides. More information at:

Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese issued the following statement:

"Clint McCance's decision to resign from the school board is a step forward for the community he represents. We are hopeful the wounds that were inflicted will soon be healed," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "What remains troubling is that Mr. McCance focused his regret on particular word choices not the animus behind those words. We hope he will take this time to reflect not only on the language he used but on what he can do to make the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people better."

HRC Places Ad To Demand That McCance Resign

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today once again called upon Clint McCance – a Midland School Board Member from Arkansas – to resign following an anti-gay tirade he unleashed on Facebook in response to a rash of bullying-related suicides.  HRC has placed a full page ad in tomorrow’s Batesville Guard – the local newspaper in Independence County – calling on McCance to resign.

A Call For Entries For The HRC Innovation Awards

Award for Workplace Equality Innovation

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation's Corporate Equality Index has been a key driver for advancing forward-thinking policies within corporate America and the change has been nothing short of remarkable.

Out of this enormous progress, individual businesses have developed truly innovative programs/initiatives that contribute to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workplace inclusion. The HRC Award for Workplace Equality Innovation will help drive innovation by highlighting emerging, effective practices.

Who Should Apply

Employers that rate 100% on the HRC Corporate Equality Index are welcome to apply. Some examples of innovative programs may include, but are not limited to:
  • LGBT programs that turn policies into practice following mergers & acquisitions or in decentralized organizations
  • LGBT recruitment and retention programs such as optional self-identification, eliminating "front door" bias and promoting LGBT managers (senior-level)
  • Model transgender benefits
  • Performance metrics on LGBT workplace issues
  • LGBT supplier diversity or supply-chain management
  • LGBT global policies and programs
  • Other programs or efforts that significantly changed the workplace climate for LGBT employees and allies
Businesses interested in submitting a program for the award should indicate this in their Corporate Equality Index survey under the "Additional Information" section. You can download the 2011 application for more information:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Transgender Law Center Investigating Offensive Letter from DMV Employee

San Francisco - The Transgender Law Center is outraged that a California Department of Motor Vehicles employee sent a letter to the home of a transgender woman calling her "an abomination" and telling her that she is going to hell.

Last week Amber Yust, a transgender woman living in San Francisco, went to the San Francisco Department of Motor Vehicles to change her name on her driver's license. With her court ordered name change and all of the DMV paperwork in hand, Amber was able to get a new driver's license in her new name. But her experience with the DMV did not end there.

Unbelievably, on Monday, Amber received a letter from the person who had processed her name change at the DMV. In the letter, which had been mailed to her at home, the DMV employee quoted from the Bible and stated that Amber had made a "very evil decision." The strongly-worded letter told Amber that she was "an abomination" and said that homosexuals should be put to death.

"I was shocked to receive this letter from the person who processed my paperwork at the DMV," said Amber. "I would never have expected that a DMV employee could use information from my name change application to reach out and personally attack me. This has been a traumatic experience for me and I want to ensure that nothing like this happens to anyone else."

The Transgender Law Center is investigating the incident.

"This was an egregious act committed by a government employee," said Masen Davis, Executive Director of the Transgender Law Center. "Transgender people deserve to be treated with respect at agencies like the DMV. What happened to Amber is despicable, and we intend to do everything we can to hold the responsible parties accountable and to prevent this from happening again."

About TLC
The Transgender Law Center (TLC) is a civil rights organization advocating for transgender communities. TLC uses direct legal services, education, community organizing and advocacy to transform California into a state that recognizes and supports the needs of transgender people and their families.

Top 25 "Best of the Best" LGBT speakers, performers raises awareness of inclusion, visibility on college campuses nationally

Release of Campus Pride’s 2010 HOT LIST! marks ‘best of the best’ in LGBT actors, comedians, lecturers, performers; comes on heels of what some say is exclusive, ill-chosen speaker/performer set at this year’s NACA Conference

(CHARLOTTE, N.C.)  –Campus Pride, the nation’s leading non-profit working to create safer, more lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) inclusive colleges and build future LGBT and ally leaders, announces today its 2010 HOT LIST!, the “Top 25 LGBT Favorites ”including out lecturers, comedians, musicians. poets, artists, researchers, activists and more. The list serves as a unique resource for LGBT college student organizations, college activities coordinators,student life officials and others looking to bring the best and brightest talent to their campuses while also increasing awareness,inclusion and visibility of LGBT people.

This year’s release of the HOT LIST! couldn’t come at a better time, as activists and professionals ask why this year’s National Association of Campus Activities (NACA) conference failed to adequately include out LGBT people in their roster of speakers, performers and workshop leaders. Some organizers are shocked, especially in light of the national attention surrounding LGBT youth suicides the last month.

That NACA would include only one openly queer person in their national conference line-up this year is a sign there’s still more work to do in increasing visibility for LGBT people on college campuses and the associations that serve them across the country,” says Adrienne Jones, student activist and Hot List volunteer coordinator. “We hope our 2010 HOT LIST! fills in the void and serves to provide unique recommendations for planning in campus activities. NACA should take note.”

The 2010 HOT LIST! includes the most diverse slate of nationally-respected performers, speakers, actors and lecturers to date and some of the nation’s most well-known, outspoken advocates for LGBT people.

This year’s HOT LIST! includes, among others: Musicians A.J. Shanti and Katastrophe, performance and spoken word artists Athens Boys Choir and Kit Yan, drag performer Sherry Vine, first and only openly gay college football team captain Brian Sims, professor and author of Campus Pride’s “2010 State of Higher Education for LGBT People” Sue Rankin, bisexual author and speaker Robyn Ochs, musician Randi Driscoll, ESPN writer and columnist LZ Granderson, columnist and “It Gets Better” creator Dan Savage, hate crimes prevention advocate Judy Shepard, comedian Kathy Griffin and others.

For a full list of 2010 HOT LIST! picks and their bios, visit To learn more about Campus Pride, go online to or email

Author and Children's Advocate Calls Upon the World to STAND Against Intolerance

PORTLAND, Maine, Oct. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Brian J. Tessier, author and founder of We Hear The Children Inc., a member of the National Advisory Council of the Human Rights Campaign's All Children - All Families Foundation, calls you to STAND UP! "Children are dying at the hands of others or by their own hands," says Tessier. "Take a STAND against intolerance."

Tessier, a single gay father, knows the pain of coming out and the pain of violent loss. NOW is the time to put away political rhetoric, religious bias and hatred and STAND against intolerance. In an age where we sit at the web and social media purports to connect us, it is time we actually STAND UP for something. We Hear The Children and Tessier are calling for all people to STAND against intolerance, on December 1st, 2010, from 1-2 p.m.


"As we grieve together, we must stand in hope, BEFORE another child reaches for a rope." We MUST stand so all can see we will not allow this to continue! We cannot hide behind a monitor in the comfort of our home or office.


This is not about race. It is not about religion; in all religions, children are held in the highest regard. This is not about politics. This is not only about LGBTQ children, as children are dying by their own hand as a result of a perception, rather than a reality. It could be your child or mine. This is an issue about all children growing up in a tolerant world. We must erode apathy and replace it with action.


Tessier implores the LGBTQ community to STAND. "Historically we have not been a population of parents but, we have always been role models for LGBTQ youth." However, all children must see we STAND for them. Many of us can harken back to a time when our community was assailed by the death of many due to AIDS. Then, we as a community stood up and cried, "Silence = Death." We cannot be silent now; the equation is the same.


On December 1st, 2010 Tessier will be standing on the steps of the Capitol in Augusta, standing on the side of love for all children so one day he can tell his children, "I stood up." Will you STAND? This event is about being present, visible and taking a STAND, for all children. Register as one who will take a STAND or a group that will STAND TOGETHER by going to 

For additional information, write:

Friday, October 22, 2010

It Gets Better Project Reaches Major Milestone: Over 10 Million Video Views on and YouTube

Dan Savage of the It Gets Better Project announces the launch of a nationwide suicide prevention and anti-bullying effort, calls on supporters to take the first step today by joining the cause and signing a pledge at
The staff of Google, Gallaudet students, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Broadway cast members are the latest to post videos of support

WASHINGTON, DC – Today following the announcement that over 2,000 videos inspired by the It Gets Better Project have reached 10 million video views on and YouTube, the project’s founder, Dan Savage, is sending the organization's first email to encourage thousands of supporters to join a nationwide suicide prevention and anti-bullying effort by signing a pledge at

The It Gets Better Project is more than just a collection of incredible and inspiring videos; it engages people in communities across America, from all different backgrounds to take action.

In the coming weeks and months, the It Gets Better Project will be calling on individuals from across the country, from all walks of life, no matter their sexual orientation, to take a stand against LGBT bullying and help to support suicide prevention services in our nation’s schools and communities.

Below is the full-text version of Dan Savage’s email announcing the campaign to supporters, including the pledge:

Subject: Making it Better Today

Dear Friends,

More than 2,000 videos, 10 million views, and emails from kids all over the country letting us know that they're watching and taking hope.

We can’t believe it.

Four weeks ago, Terry and I recorded the first It Gets Better Project video in the aftermath of the recent suicides of bullied gay teenagers across the country. We created a YouTube channel and invited other LGBT adults to share their stories with LGBT kids. We were worried that our video might be the only one on our "channel."

But 24 hours after we posted the first It Gets Better Project video to YouTube, six more videos popped up.  Two days later, there were a couple of dozen more. Within a week, there were 1,000. Now there are more than 2,000 videos that have been watched more than 10 million times.

These videos do not solve the bullying crisis in this country. It’s why I ask you today to join me in this nationwide grassroots campaign by signing our It Gets Better Project pledge:

Everyone deserves to be respected for who they are. I pledge to spread this message to my friends, family and neighbors. I'll speak up against hate and intolerance whenever I see it, at school and at work. I'll provide hope for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and other bullied teens by letting them know that "It Gets Better."

When a 15-year-old gay kid commits suicide, he's saying that he can't picture a future for himself with enough joy in it to compensate for the pain he's in now. By sharing our stories and our joy, LGBT adults and our allies are letting bullied and isolated LGBT kids know that there is hope—that things will get better for them, just as they got better for us. That they will know love and know joy.

The It Gets Better Project is not just a place where LGBT youth can view videos of role models, but it’s a place where our allies—straight people, religious people, friends and family members—can come together to stand up for the human rights of America’s youth.

Dan Savage
It Gets Better Project

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pet Insurance Offering to Federal Employees Highlights Absurdity of Partner Benefit Denial

HRC’s Joe Solmonese: “Current law puts federal workers’ parrots ahead of their partners”

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, today called on Congress to put the real lives of people first and offer domestic partner benefits to federal employees. Earlier this week, government employees participating in Federal Employee Health Benefits were notified by a provider that they are eligible to buy into insurance policies for their pets. These same employees are denied the opportunity to cover their same-sex domestic partners.

Current law puts federal workers’ parrots ahead of their partners,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.  “It is time for Congress to act to put people first and extend health care benefits equally to all of their employees.”

Benefits, such as health insurance and retirement savings, are a significant portion of employee compensation. Although the federal government – the nation’s largest civilian employer – offers attractive family benefits to employees with different-sex spouses, it does not offer the same benefits to lesbian and gay workers with partners. As a result, these employees do not receive equal pay for their equal contributions, and the government cannot keep pace with leading private-sector employers – including many federal contactors – in recruiting and retaining top talent. In fact, 57% of Fortune 500 companies offer domestic partner benefits to their employees. HRC is not aware of any statistics regarding pet insurance offerings by the Fortune 500.

The President has instructed federal agencies to “conduct a thorough review of the benefits they provide and to identify any that could be extended to LGBT employees and their partners and families” and some limited benefits have been extended. But because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Congress must pass the Domestic Partner Benefits and Obligations Act to extend critical health care benefits. The President has called on Congress to pass DPBO (S.1102 and H.R.2517) which has been passed in House and Senate committees but awaits floor action.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

HRC Statement on Stay Request of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Injunction

WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice has asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to grant an emergency stay of federal district court judge Virginia Phillips’s decision to halt all discharges under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law. Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese issued the following statement:

It is certainly disappointing and frustrating that the administration has sought a stay. There is one simple way to put the endless legal wrangling behind us and do what the President and the American people want to strengthen our military: the administration and Congress need to finish the legislative work on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal after the election. The interests of the administration, the military, and most importantly the American people are best served by doing the hard work of enacting a durable legislative repeal of this discriminatory law.


To prevent anti-gay bullying and violence, The Homecoming Project brings gay
adults back to their high schools to share stories, lessons, and hope.

NEW YORK (October 14, 2010) – In the midst of a national wave of anti-gay bullying and violence,  a powerful short video premiering today reveals how one person can change a school – and the lives of hundreds of gay and straight youth – in just one day.

Academy Award-winning screenwriter Lance Black (“Milk”) is one of the many gay leaders participating in The Homecoming Project, Live Out Loud’s grassroots initiative that brings successful gay adults back to their high schools to share their stories, lessons, and hope with today’s students.

Moby is a ‘New Yorker for Marriage Equality’

Iconic New Yorker Raises Profile of Timely Fight for Equal Marriage

WASHINGTON – Today the Human Rights Campaign – the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization – released the fifth video of the “New Yorkers for Marriage Equality” campaign, which features singer Moby. The campaign raises the public profile of marriage equality in the Empire State leading into this fall’s elections and next year’s anticipated legislative action. The campaign can be viewed online at

New York is poised to be on the leading edge of marriage equality and New Yorkers are speaking out to make it happen,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “We hope these high-profile New Yorkers spur every fair-minded citizen to make their voices heard on this critical equality issue.”

The campaign is centered on video testimonials from New Yorkers who support the right of same-sex couples to marry. The ads will run online with possible placement elsewhere as the legislative fight for marriage equality heats up in Albany.

To date, HRC has released five videos – Moby, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, actress Julianne Moore and designer Kenneth Cole – and more will follow in the coming weeks and months including: actress Fran Drescher, Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, David Chang, Tom Colicchio, Whoopi Goldberg, Ethan and Ryan Hawke, Christopher Meloni, Moby, Joan Rivers, Daphne Ruben-Vega, Sunrise and Mark Ruffalo and Rev. Al Sharpton.

An equal marriage bill failed last year by eight votes in the New York state Senate despite having the support of the Governor and being passed in the Assembly. HRC’s Campaign for New York Marriage is working to defeat Senators who voted against equality and instead to elect fair-minded leaders. To date HRC’s New York PAC has raised over $150,000 for election-related activities.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

GLAAD and Facebook Work Together to Remove Anti-Gay Comments

Facebook takes on new measures to respond more quickly to hateful posts

October 13, 2010, New York, NY – The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the nation's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy and anti-defamation organization, today announced that Facebook has put new measures in place to respond more quickly to hateful comments posted to a memorial page dedicated to those lost to anti-gay bullying. For more information please visit

On October 6, GLAAD was alerted to a string of hateful comments posted to a Facebook event page which memorializes young people who have lost their lives to anti-gay bullying. The page also asks that its supporters wear purple on October 20 in honor of those "who committed suicide in recent weeks/months due to homophobic abuse." That page now has over half a million supporters.

Over 1,800 emails were sent to GLAAD calling for Facebook to monitor the content or remove the page altogether.  Because the event page is currently functioning as a community memorial with an outpouring of support for the families of those teens as well as youth who might be facing similar anti-gay bullying, GLAAD’s digital team continued to work with Facebook and call for a solution.

"This violent, hateful speech has no place in our media–whether it in print, on the airwaves or online," said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. "Facebook has taken an important first step in making social media a place where anti-gay violence is not allowed. Our community needs to continue to be vigilant and report instances of hateful comments and images across the site to Facebook moderators as well as post messages of support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth."

GLAAD called on members to continue to monitor and use Facebook reporting methods for this and other pages as well as to post messages of support to the event page.

"Educating people about the lasting and damaging impacts of ignorant and hateful comments is a responsibility shared by parents, educators, organizations like GLAAD, and services like Facebook," said Facebook spokesperson Andrew Noyes. "We take our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities very seriously and react quickly to reports of inappropriate content and behavior. The goal of these policies is to strike a very delicate balance between giving people the freedom to express their opinions and viewpoints–even those that may be controversial to some–and maintaining a safe and trusted environment. We have policies that prohibit hateful content and we have built a robust reporting infrastructure and an expansive team to review reports and remove content quickly. In addition to responding to reports, we have automated systems that use a number of factors to flag content that might violate our policies, so we can review and take it down as quickly as possible and before it’s reported."

Facebook intends to work closely with GLAAD and other LGBT organizations on future initiatives.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

HRC Launches Action Alert Calling for Apology from Carl Paladino

Candidate’s anti-gay speech comes amidst suicides and hate crimes

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, today issued an action alert encouraging members and supporters to seek an apology from New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino.  The candidate on Sunday gave an anti-gay speech in which he said he didn’t want children “brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option.”  Paladino’s hateful remarks came amidst news of suicides by young people who faced anti-gay harassment as well as a horrific hate crime in the Bronx that targeted three gay men.

By his own words, Carl Paladino has made himself the poster boy for the kind of divisive leadership that makes young LGBT people question their self-worth and gives license to those who use violence to advance their hate,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.  “Carl Paladino should think about how young LGBT people feel when he tells a crowded room that they're not as ‘valid’ or will be as ‘successful’ as someone else.”

The email alert can be viewed at: and to take action directly, visit:

Paladino’s anti-gay tirade came directly after he warned that “we must stop pandering to the pornographers and the perverts who seek to target our children and destroy their lives.”  He blasted his opponent Andrew Cuomo for participating in a gay pride parade, and in a today show appearance yesterday described the parade as “disgusting.”

What’s disgusting is that Carl Paladino’s idea of celebrating the eve of National Coming Out Day is to tell young LGBT people that they’re not equally valid,” added Solmonese.  “There is nothing to be proud of in giving voice to the kind of divisiveness that so often leads to violence.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Log Cabin Republicans Responds to Carl Paladino's Disgraceful Comments about Gays and Lesbians

(Washington, DC) - Log Cabin Republicans condemn New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino's anti-gay comments delivered over the weekend.

"Carl Paladino's statements are unfortunate and show he lacks an understanding of what it means to be gay," said Gregory T. Angelo, Chairman of the New York Log Cabin Republicans.  "Allow me to offer a counter to his misinformed statement: I think gay men and women -- my neighbors and your neighbors -- would be much better off and much more successful if they were allowed equal rights and the option of getting married and raising a family. I don't want New Yorkers to be brainwashed into thinking that ignorance is an equally valid and successful option. It isn't."

Christian Berle, Deputy Executive Director for the National Log Cabin Republicans, agreed.  "Carl Paladino's comments are profoundly out of touch with the principles and priorities of Americans and of New Yorkers today.  As our nation mourns the loss of too many youth subjected to dehumanizing harassment in schools, this year's 'National Coming Out Day' is a chance to take a stand against the ugly and unnecessary rhetoric that too often leads to tragedy.  It is reckless and irresponsible for anybody in public life today to suggest that gay and lesbian Americans are somehow less worthy of respect because of who they are."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Featuring: Ricky Martin, Elton John, Idina Menzel, Rachael Harris
and Wanda Sykes

October 5, 2010 [NEW YORK] – The Give a Damn Campaign (, a project of Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Fund, has released its newest public service announcement focusing on hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Ricky Martin, Elton John, Idina Menzel, Rachael Harris and Wanda Sykes speak out about the need to bring an end to these senseless acts of violence and intimidation. The PSA saw its world premiere last night on CNN’s Larry King Live during an episode featuring the topic of anti-gay bullying.

In the U.S. one hate crime takes place approximately every hour of every single day. In 2008, the most recent year in which such data is available, 7,783 incidents of hate crime were reported to the FBI.1 out of every 6 of these hate crimes is committed on the basis of sexual orientation.

Gay men and lesbians are the third most targeted group for hate crimes of the ones that are actually reported. It is widely believed that these numbers are significantly higher, as victims of hate crimes based on sexual orientation are afraid to report the crime to authorities.

Hate crimes can happen anywhere, at any time. They are dehumanizing, willful acts of bigotry perpetrated with the intent to intimidate. They may range from harassment and physical intimidation to beatings, rape, torture —even murder. Perpetrators commit these horrific acts to intimidate and terrorize a community, and to send a message about the victim and “their kind.”

We as parents, as people, as a nation need to stand up and say enough is enough. We will not tolerate hate any longer,” said Cyndi Lauper. “Hate is learned and we need to teach our children that being different is okay. The best way we can do that is to lead by example and treat others with dignity and respect. No one should ever be bullied or harmed in any way because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, ethnicity or anything that someone labels another as 'different.' Hate is a lose lose situation and its time that things final change.”

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Monday, October 4, 2010

HRC to Mormon Apostle: Your Statements are Inaccurate and Dangerous

Mormon Leader’s Inaccurate Statements Yesterday Fuel Anti-LGBT Violence, Teen Suicides

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest civil rights organization dedicated to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality, today called on Boyd K. Packer, the president of the Mormon Church’s Quorum of Twelve Apostles, to correct statements he made yesterday calling same-sex attraction “impure and unnatural,” claiming that it can be corrected and characterizing same-sex marriage as immoral. Packer’s inaccurate and dangerous rhetoric comes on the heels of the suicides of at least four teenagers over the past month, all victims of anti-gay bullying or harassment. An additional seven teens committed suicide in the past year in one Minnesota school district alone; three of the teens’ suicides were connected to anti-gay bullying. Packer, who is 86 and one of the church’s most senior leaders, made his statements to a crowd of 20,000 – and millions more watching via satellite transmission -- during the church’s 180th Semi-annual General Conference in Salt Lake City.

Words have consequences, particularly when they come from a faith leader. This is exactly the kind of statement that can lead some kids to bully and others to commit suicide,” said Joe Solmonese, president of HRC. “When a faith leader tells gay people that they are a mistake because God would never have made them that way and they don’t deserve love, it sends a very powerful message that violence and/or discrimination against LGBT people is acceptable. It also emotionally devastates those who are LGBT or may be struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identify. His words were not only inaccurate, they were also dangerous.”

As a church leader immersed in these issues, Packer should know better. The American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association have both concluded that same-sex attraction is normal and that “reparative” therapy – like the kind being advocated by the Mormon Church -- is unhealthy and harmful. This is not the first instance in which the church has spewed lies related to same-sex orientation. Last summer, another senior member of the church’s hierarchy, promised that same-sex attraction could be cured. “If you are faithful, on resurrection morning – and maybe even before then – you will rise with normal attractions for the opposite sex,” Mormon Church leader Bruce Haffen told a conference.

Packer also took the opportunity to dismiss efforts toward marriage equality as ones that “legalize immorality.” Ominously during this speech, the apostle declared that the church hierarchy’s opposition to marriage equality “…will not change.” As HRC has chronicled on its website, the Mormon Church is a key funder of the so-called National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a powerful fringe group that regularly encourages anti-gay attitudes and behaviors. The church was also a prime funder of efforts to pass Prop. 8 in California. NOM board member and famous Mormon writer, Orson Scott Card, has said, “Any government that attempts to change it [marriage] is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage…

"Elder Packer's remarks in General Conference were not only ill-advised and contrary to fact, but were mean-spirited and will be perceived by many as bullying,” said David Melson, Executive Director of Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons. “We see no potential for good coming from his words and much possible damage, to the church, to individuals, and to families. The LDS Church should be a source of love, compassion, and conciliation, and not of fear and unfeeling petty hatred."

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