Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gay Family Three-in-One

This has been quite a week for gay families. Here are three family-oriented bits of news:

President Obama declared Monday, September 28, to be Family Day 2009. More importantly, he included our (LGBT) families right at the start [boldface added]:

"Our family provides one of the strongest influences on our lives. American families from every walk of life have taught us time and again that children raised in loving, caring homes have the ability to reject negative behaviors and reach their highest potential. Whether children are raised by two parents, a single parent, grandparents, a same-sex couple, or a guardian, families encourage us to do our best and enable us to accomplish great things.

It doesn't provide guardianship, social security, or inheritance benefits to our kids, but it is a positive symbol, and in time we can leverage equal rights from greater exposure and visibility.

According to 2008 census data, 150,000 same-sex couples reported being in marriage relationships, which is many more than the actual number of legal same-sex marriage that have occurred.

Analysts said the disparities are probably a reflection of same-sex couples in committed relationships who would get married if they could in their states. The numbers are also an indicator of the count to come in the 2010 census, a tally that could stir a state-by-state fight over same-sex marriage, gay adoption and other legal rights.

Data from the 2005 census shows that in North Carolina, same-sex couples live in every county in the state.
  • LGBT families are significantly more racially and ethnically diverse than their straight counterparts.
  • People in same-sex couples are more likely to be employed, but on average LGBT couples earn distinctly less than married couples and are much less likely to own a house. (Gay men in couples tend to have lower incomes than married men while lesbians tend to earn more than married women.)
  • A quarter of gay couples are raising children, but they have a much lower income and reatly reduced access to other economic resources afforded to married straight couples.
The 2010 census is supposed to produce a better count of same-sex couples, which will provide even more data we can use to achieve civil equality for our families and our children.

A recent study from Eastern Carolina University and University of Texas researchers shows that gay couples are just as fit to adopt as straight ones.

The findings - reported in the journal Adoption Quarterly - are important because they compare gay and lesbian and heterosexual couples. The study found that the sexual orientation of adoptive parents, whether LGBT or heterosexual, does not have an impact on the emotional development of their children.

This study, along with other recent ones, have significant gay-positive implications for social workers, educators, adoption professionals, and policy makers.

Monday, September 28, 2009

NC PRIDE 2009 — New Experiences

by Volunteer Coordinator Intern Zack Ballard

We came. We marched. We dodged the storm ….

The looming rain may have deterred some from attending this year’s NC Pride, but those who did brave the elements proved they were ready to stand out and stand up for the LGBT community.

I had never been to a Pride before this year, so I wasn’t too sure what to expect — especially considering I was tabling as an intern for a state-level organization of which many people are familiar.

After struggling with the muddy ground and our tent for about thirty minutes, the day finally began, and I was nervous to see what happened. I was pleasantly surprised with every interaction I had, though — those of us at the Equality North Carolina table enjoyed talking to people all day about their hometowns, their experiences, and their time at Pride.

I spoke with many North Carolinians who have lost jobs because of their sexuality, and how happy they were to see our efforts to put a stop to the hate. I was ecstatic to see all of our eager volunteers networking and spreading the word about Equality NC’s goals. Because of you, volunteers, we were able to secure hundreds of signatures in support of ending workplace discrimination in North Carolina—a huge feat!

Not only were the Pride-goers happy and helpful, they were full of connections, stories, and positive energy. When it came time for the parade, I saw churches, schools, businesses, and locals gathering together to show support for the LGBT community (not to mention the bride and her llamas). I felt a sense of community I’ve yet to feel since coming out about a year ago.

It was wonderful to walk hand-in-hand with my partner, Aaron, and feel as comfortable and safe as any couple should. I expected there to be protesters everywhere yelling obscenities and giving looks of hate, but there were barely any in sight for the entirety of the parade. Afterward, looking at the final stack of signatures, I know now I really couldn’t have asked for a better Pride to be my first.

So thank you, everyone, for making this a truly unique experience! Happy Pride!

Is There a Single, One-stop, Equality for All, Federal Solution?

[reposted from the Equality Federation blog:]

I’ve been hearing a lot of talk lately about this idea that we should demand a single federal solution for equality. I’ve heard it from donors, I’ve heard it from Equality March organizers, and I’ve heard it from angry LGBT Americans.

Much as that sounds like a great idea, equality is not going to happen that way.

A single federal solution is simply not possible. Here’s why.
  1. The separation of powers between the federal and state governments means that states reserve all the powers not granted to the federal government by the Constitution. This means that states hold the power to regulate marriage and family matters, a power upon which the federal government has been loathe to intrude. When the federal government does act, it must rely upon constitutional protections (like equal protection or the right to due process) as grounds for regulating state rules or behaviors. And while the federal government also may use the power of the purse (tying highway funds to higher age limits for buying alcohol, for example), it is unlikely to impose new rules that don’t already have support or precedent in the states.

  2. No historical precedent exists. Now, this does not mean that we couldn’t or shouldn’t try to create a new precedent. But it would be an uphill struggle. We could not do it in the courts (where cases are based on actual circumstances of individuals and must generally be limited to the most narrow, specific ruling available to resolve the litigated issues). We would have to do it legislatively. But see #4. Achieving equality for women or black Americans – the movements we most often look to for inspiration – did not happen with the passage of a single law covering voting rights, equal pay, status as property of whites/men, employment discrimination, housing rights, health disparities, and so on. Inequality breeds a whole range of harms, and to try to address all of them in one bill would fail to adequately address each of them. See #3. You think the health care legislation is complex?

  3. Politics requires compromise. We may not like it, we may believe that equality should brook no compromise, but the fact remains that political maneuvering for power is how our democracy is implemented every single day. We can rail against it, or we can educate ourselves about how to navigate through the egos and fear tactics and cynicism and favor trading and all the rest so that we can actually achieve the change we seek. We must understand that politicians do not lead, they follow. Demonstrations and marches are important because they increase our visibility and force politicians to think about our issues. But we still have to get votes for our legislation. Unfortunately, the courageous politician is an exceedingly rare creature. Add to that the politics in our own movement. Plenty of folks love or hate particular leaders in the movement (especially those who lead movement organizations), but guess what? Those leaders are simply a microcosm of the larger community and we, too, have intense disagreements about which strategies are best or where we should prioritize the allocation of resources. So compromise is required in our own community in order to move forward.

  4. We can’t amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This is a proposal I’ve heard many times, and on the face of it I think it’s a great idea. Why wouldn’t we add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to a bill that prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin? It’s a brilliant and simple strategy! Unfortunately, it’s really not. The fact is, civil rights laws passed after this great Act have been subject to attempts (many successful) to water down the kinds of protections they provide. So, for example, we have a pretty big religious exemption in ENDA that many of us don’t like but that we know we have to include if we are going to move this bill forward at all. And if we tried to amend the Civil Rights Act, we would certainly see amendments and exemptions to our simple, brilliant proposal that would actually weaken the law. Because of this, some of our strongest allies in the civil rights community could not and would not support us in trying to amend this law. And if leaders in the civil rights community actively opposed us in this approach, we would simply be unable to get the votes we needed to pass our proposal. So – we could try doing this, but it is not really a promising use of our resources or political capital.

  5. Existing proposed legislation has momentum now and multiple bills are already lined up for passage. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act is currently moving through Congress and, if we all do our part, it should pass this year. Hate crimes legislation has had a hard road but it will also pass soon. The repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is inching forward and I expect to see it happen next year, hopefully in the spring. We are actively building support right now for immigration law reforms to end discrimination against lgbt families, as well as laws to extend domestic partner benefits to federal employees and to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. Even if you think I’m wrong about everything else I’ve said here, this is not the time to abandon legislation that our community has been working on for years.

  6. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that we actually could pass an all-purpose federal equality law, we will still need state laws to truly achieve equality. ENDA will be a great step forward for our community, and it will protect millions of American currently protected under no other laws. But it won’t actually cover everyone. Small businesses, for example, will mostly be exempt from ENDA based on the size of their staff. In most states with employment protections, more businesses are required to comply so millions of workers not covered by federal law are actually covered by state law. And even if we repeal DOMA, we still have to get marriage in as many states as we can if we are to have any hope of winning a court challenge to the constitutionality of state DOMA’s. In the American version of government, state and federal legislation may pass independently, but its impact is most often felt in the application of an interconnected web of laws.
In this country, democracy works in something of a circular pattern. Big social issues aren’t tackled first in our nation’s capital. Instead, they bubble up from our local communities, where the harms are closer to home and citizens can work to get their local governments to address those harms. State government action often follows, learning and improving upon strategies already implemented locally, and expanding protections across the entire state. When enough states have addressed a particular issue, the national understanding of that issue will begin to shift, so a critical mass of policy changes or a social tipping point is reached. Then we see the federal government begin to take action. Finally, the action at the federal level will reach back down to the state and local level in places where we have been unable to make local and state policy changes.

Or, a law is passed and the courts must rule it constitutional or not. The legislature may have to take action again. Or litigation is filed, and the outcome of that case may spur action by the voters. That’s the beautiful thing about democracy – there are many approaches we can take to changing public policy. Of course, that means we may also be attacked on any level (witness Kalamazoo, Maine, Washington state, and Congress generally).

My point is simply this. We will not achieve equality by abandoning our work at any level of the political process. We must continue to increase the pressure to achieve the promise of equality under the law at all levels and in all branches of government. There is no magic bullet. Our strategy must be focused while also casting a very large net. And that’s how we will finally achieve equal protection under the law.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Equality in the News September 19-25

Thanks again to our communications intern, Jennifer, for rounding up the week's news!

Well Another week down. Time has just been flying by lately! I can’t believe we’re about a week and some change away from October. Maybe we’ll start to see some more favorable (in my opinion) October-like weather because this rainy humid weather is a no-go!

Ok, this week I have a lot of news briefs to report, so hang on, grab a cup of coffee and get pumped!

In the State

A Word with Senator Julia Boseman

Senator Julia Boseman, who many know as North Carolina’s only openly gay senator, has made some significant strides in her time in office. She recently had an interview with the Independent Weekly about her loyalty to the Clintons, disappointment in President Obama’s efforts on LGBT issues, her new spouse, the baby boy they’re expecting in January, and her very honest opinion of senator Helms! Equality North Carolina’s own Ian Palmquist stated “Julia's making a big difference behind the scenes. She's really stepped up in the past year and made a big difference for us." When asked about her contributions to the LGBT community, Boseman comments on leading the fight as primary sponsor of the School Violence Prevention Act and The Healthy Youth Act.

North Carolina Pride 2009

Twenty-five years ago (which is a little more than my lifetime ago) North Carolina hosted its first Gay Pride Festival. This year’s event will celebrate social and political triumphs citizens of the state’s LGBT community has made and calls attention to important issues that affect LGBT residents. Take a moment to listen to writer Steven Petrow talk about this year’s festivities. You may recognize Steven from his published profile (see link above) of Senator Julia Boseman, and he weighs in on that too.

Vigil Held to Protest Hate letters left for Guilford College Student

Recently, a student at Guilford College received several “anti-gay” letters on the door of his dorm room. The incident has sparked a lot outrage on the campus (and rightfully so!). The President of the college stated that the school has since held open discussions about the incident, which violates the campus conduct code. Currently the school is trying to find the author of the two letters. Brian Daniel (the president of Guilford PRIDE) hosted a vigil with the student-run Guilford Peace Society a week after the letters were found at the student’s dorm room door. Daniel states, “The whole purpose of this vigil was to show that among Guilford’s seven core values, hatred is not one of them.” I certainly agree with that statement, and it saddens me to hear of such ignorant behavior among classmates, much less humans. Read more about the vigil here.

Churches step up for Pride

Oftentimes, the most visible presence of religious groups at the N.C. Pride Festival and Parade has been people with bullhorns walking around suggesting that “these visitors” take their festivities “elsewhere.” Over the past few years, local churches have begun marching in the parade, handing out literature and riding on floats. The general message these groups are trying to put out is that people don’t have to choose between their sexual orientation and their religion. Hopefully this year will see additional religious groups will openly welcome and support Pride.

In The Nation

According to the Census….

The census reported nearly 150,000 same-sex couples reported being in marriage relationships last year, which is more than the civil unions and weddings reported on the first released census figures released on same-sex marriages. Out of 564,743 total same-sex couples in the United states, 27% reported being married. It would amazing to see these numbers drastically climb during the next census as we push for equal marriage over the next few years!

Pelosi worries about angry Rhetoric—reminds her of the 70’s LGBT Rights Movement

Recently, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been reminded of the assassinations of Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone because of the violent debate over health care reform. The angry rhetoric takes Pelosi back to the LGBT rights movement that had proceeded the murders of Milk and Moscone for years. Pelosi states, “Our country is great because people can say what they think and they believe, but I also think that they have to take responsibility for any incitement that they may case.”

Navy Reviews Abuse of Dog Handler

For two years Joseph Rocha was abused by a fellow serviceman in Bahrain for two years until he sought a discharge under Don't Ask Don't Tell by coming out to his commanding officer in 2007. Rocha has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder from the constant hazing while he served with military dog handlers based in Bahrain to support the Iraq War. According to an internal Navy investigation into Rocha’s unit, dozens of examples of hazing and sexual harassment against multiple sailors between 2005 and 2006 occurred. A congressman who is a former admiral has asked for the information from the navy about the harassment and why the serviceman who had harassed Rocha had been promoted. The case is currently being investigated as requested by the Chief of Naval Operations and a report is due back on October 6th. Rocha hopes to return to serve openly in the military as a Marine Corps officer.

In the World

Organizers cancel Serbia’s Pride March

Serbia’s Pride march has been canceled because the authorities claim they cannot guarantee protection for the event from extremist groups. The celebration would have been Serbia’s first gay pride march since 2001, when the event received no protection and was broken up by rightists groups. This news saddens me as I believe everyone should be able to celebrate who they are and where they have come from without being attacked from ignorant nay-sayers.

The Murder of Eudy Simelane Sparks Debate

Eudy Simelane of South Africa was a 31-year-old lesbian activist and one of the nation’s best soccer players. She was murdered in April of 2008 by stab wounds. Simelande was one of 18,148 murder victims with in the year she was murdered which ended in March. Many South African police officers are tired of “waving the constitution” at the criminals and prefer to resort to violence towards them stating, “if it means we kill when we shoot them, so be it.” Many LGBT groups in south Africa state that police officers often exclude crimes directed at them. LGBT citizens of South Africa are special targets of violence and abusive police offers do little to protect them or pursue their complaints.

Well, that is the round-up for this week! Don’t forget to visit Equality of North Carolina’s booth at Pride this Saturday in Durham, N.C. Pride starts at 10 A.M. and the parade that follows begins at 1:00 P.M. For more information on the event visit our website:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Families Live in the World We Have ....

Last month, North Carolina got some great news on gay second-parent adoption. Up until then, though, second-parent adoptions by gay folks in the state had been in a kind of legal limbo, neither valid nor invalid. Now, they've been validated as long as they're judged in the best interest of the child (though of course anti-equality opposition groups are even now working to undo this decision and its amazing benefits for kids).

This is a great example of the problem with inequality and selectively applied/excluded laws that affect LGBT folks.

Currently, we have a patchwork of laws that affect gay couples and their families across the country. We've got marriage in a few states, civil unions in some places, domestic partnerships in others, and nothing in most. If a gay couple gets married in a state with marriage equality, they may end up in a legal limbo in another state that doesn't recognize marriage equality, much less grant divorces to a gay couple.

Some states support gay parents having second-parent adoption of children, while others remove a kid from a parent's custody if the parent is gay.

Until we have true equality, though, we gay families just have to deal with it. There's a great resource out there that can help: Enter Gideon Alper and his Gay Couples Law Blog.

Though located in Atlanta, he blogs about laws and legal situations across the country. (For example, here's what he says about the recent North Carolina decision.)

"I started this blog because legal information available to same sex couples is limited and hard to find. While there's lots of general information out there on family law and estate planning, gay couples have unique legal needs. That's why I focus specifically on them, instead of just writing about them as part of a more general legal blog."

Topics range from adoption and child custody to marriage and divorce, wills and estate planning to tax law.

Until we have one set of laws that apply to everyone the same, this blog is a great starting point for deciphering and parsing the legal crazy-quilt that's out there.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Take Action this Sunday for Marriage Equality!

Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, with only a phone, an online computer, and a couple of hours you can help protect marriage equality in Maine this coming weekend.

National Day of Action: Save Gay Marriage in Maine!

2.5 hours to save Gay Marriage in Maine. You don't even have to leave your house. No more excuses - if you believe in the dignity of equality for all, YOU CAN DO THIS!

Host: Equality Network

Type: Causes - Rally

Network: Global

Date: Sunday, September 27, 2009

Time: 9:00am - 5:00pm

Location: Virtual Phonebank


Marriage equality is under attack in Maine, and no matter where you live, there's something you can do about it.

Far right extremists have imported their national anti-equality agenda to the Pine Tree state with the goal of stripping away marriage rights. The same group that bankrolled Prop 8 in California has set up shop in Maine and has out fundraised the local effort by 2-1.

Despite that, polls show fairness is winning by a slim margin, thanks to the local grassroots No On 1 effort to protect Maine equality.

We can't leave them alone to stand their ground. We need to rally to support the local effort! No matter where you live, there is a way to help win this fight.

**All you need is a phone and a computer with an internet connection. No long distance fees, no dialing- the web-based software does it all.**

With 500 people ACROSS AMERICA, donating 2.5 hours of time, we can accomplish 1250 volunteer hours!

This is a VIRTUAL PHONE BANK on Sunday, September 27th to SAVE MAINE FROM RIGHT-WING EXTREMISTS, and pave the way for a repeal of Proposition 8 in California!

Sign up and you will get all the information you need to be a part of the Sept 27th Maine Day of Action. IF YOU WANT TO PARTICIPATE, YOU MUST PROCEED TO THE FOLLOWING URL AND FILL OUT THE FORM:

© 2009 Protect Maine Equality, 550 Forest Avenue, Portland, ME 04101 Paid for and Authorized by Protect Maine Equality.

(Be sure to check out the great coalition of groups that are working to preserve marriage equality up there. We really do increase our strength dramatically when we team-up and work as a group. Together we stand ....)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Equality in the News September 12-18

Happy Friday Everyone! I hope you’ve all had an enjoyable (yet productive) week! Hopefully you all have had a chance to enjoy this Fall-like weather we’ve been having. Aside from Thursday’s rain, it’s been all sun East of Raleigh.


In The State

Activists in Wilmington are making the need for the Safer Communities Act known both on the streets and in the media. Here's a great opportunity to check out UNC-Wilmington's newspaper, with a piece on the newly formed group, No Hate NC.

Equal rights supporter Rev. Jack McKinney steps down from his position at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh. As a friend of ENC and respected leader to his congregation, he will be missed.

Replacements Ltd. once again gets a perfect score on the HRC Foundation's Corporate Equality Index. We're not surprised, but are--as always--very proud to know them. Nice announcement on it by the Greensboro Convention and Visitors Bureau! Bank of America Corp., Wachovia Corp., Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, and Reynolds American Inc. are also NC-based businesses making the "Best Places to Work 2009" list. Nice job, All!

In other NC workplace news, we lost an amazing organizer for workers' rights this week with the passing of Crystal Lee Sutton, the "real" Norma Rae. Let's use inspiration from her and others in the workers' rights movement to push forward toward non-discrimination and equal rights at work!

While in this section, I would like to take a moment to invite you all to volunteer with ENC at Pride to be held in Durham on September 26th from 10 A.M.-5 P.M.! That’s NEXT WEEKEND! Pride this year will take place on Duke’s East Campus and include music, speakers, vendors, food and of course a fun parade through downtown. Click here to volunteer!

In The Nation

DOMA Repeal Introduced!

The Associated Press Reports that equal marriage supporters are moving towards repealing a law that denies federal benefits to same-sex couples. The outdated 1996 law bars federal recognition of same-sexual unions, including the granting of Social Security survivor payments and other government benefits to couples. The law even applies to states that already have equal marriage. It will take 60 votes to break a filibuster, but there has been no movement for repeal in the Senate.

New Jersey Governor to sign Marriage Equality Bill “This Year”

The Advocate reports that the Governor of New Jersey, Jon Corzine, expects to sign marriage equality legislation “this year,” as he told a union conference in Atlantic City on Monday. He was asked about the issue during an appearance before a Teamsters local in Atlantic City on Monday. Corzine faces a tight re-election this November against his opponent Rep. Christopher J. Christie. It is believed that the legislature will consider the marriage equality bill in the “lame duck” session after the election and before the January swearing-in ceremony. Let’s hope that’s not the case, because this is an important issue!

Washington to Appeal Ruling in LGBT Rights Referendum

According to the Associated Press the Washington State attorney general’s office states that it will appeal a federal judge’s decision to keep secret the names of people who signed petitions calling for a public vote on expanded equality benefits for same-sex couples. U.S District Judge Ben Settle ruled Thursday that the petitions should not be released because it would likely chill the 1st Amendment rights of petition signers.

Equality in the Work Place

This particular topic falls under the “did you know?” category. According to an editorial written in the The New York Times, it is still LEGAL in 29 states (including ours) to fire employees based his or her sexual orientation. This boggles my brain! Everyone should lobby senators to get on board with the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, so that there can be equality for all in the work place.

In The World

Indonesians for Stoning

Indonesia recently passed an outrageous bill to legalize stoning adulterers and members of the gay community. The 69-seat house voted unanimously for the bill to be passed. Some members of the Democratic Party voiced concern, but ended up not voting against the bill. The law violates international treaties signed by Indonesia.

Uruguay May Retract Equal Adoptions

Despite earlier reports, Uruguay may not enable adoptions by same sex couples after all. This news comes after some “holes” in the law have grabbed law makers attention. It is noted that parts of the law don’t “specifically” state same-sex couples have a right to adopt, and in other places it suggests that a child should take a mother and father’s surnames. This news is fairly appalling as a main concern of the law SHOULD be that a child should be adopted to a loving home. Period. To deny same sex couples the right to adopt, will deny many children to loving homes.

Alright, that’s all I have for now. Enjoy the weekend and take time out to relax!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Support For - and Against - Marriage Equality

While Durham's city resolution last month to support marriage equality was a breath of fresh air, one of NC's local anti-equality groups reminds us that this is the exception rather than the rule.

Here's an excerpt from the discriminatory NC4Marriage website, which seeks to deny equal rights for LGBT North Carolinians by amending the state constitution:

County Commissioners
in the following counties have passed Resolutions calling for the General Assembly to approve legislation submitting a proposal to the qualified voters of the State for adoption of an Amendment to the North Carolina Constitution stating: "Marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or enforceable in this State."

  • Alexander
  • Ashe
  • Avery
  • Craven
  • Dare *new as of 4-6-09
  • Davidson
  • Davie *new as of 4-06-09
  • Gaston
  • Graham
  • Madison
  • Moore
  • Pasquotank
  • Rowan
  • Transylvania
  • Union *new as of 4-06-09

The following towns have passed the Resolution:

  • Town of Cedar Point

Admittedly, we don't need much reminding that we're fighting an uphill battle against prejudice - we all experience antigay bigotry every day of our lives.

Still, it's important to realize the reality of the situation, and the reality is that things are changing for the better.

Earlier this year, Elon University released a poll that included data on support for marriage equality and support for a discriminatory constitutional amendment (starting on page 10 of the report). Almost half of the respondents supported extending rights for same-sex couples (though only a quarter supported full marriage equality) and just over half opposed altering the constitution. Clearly, a majority of the public believes in America's promise of equality.

We have a ways to go, sure, and it's good to be aware of the distance to the peak, but it's also important to see how far we've come, and celebrate our current climbing success.

(And of course, we always encourage you to support Equality NC's efforts to achieve equality for LGBT North Carolinians!)

Monday, September 14, 2009

We're Number One! LGBT Folks Face the MOST Discrimination

Last week the Pew Research Center released a poll on religions, perceived similarities and differences among them, and perceived discrimination against them and other groups.

The most interesting aspect of the poll, however, had nothing to do with religion. Even though Americans perceive that members of one religion (Islam) face a large amount of discrimination, no religion or race is discriminated against nearly as much of the LGBT community.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) say gays and lesbians face a lot of discrimination.

(In comparison, only half say blacks (49%) and Hispanics (52%) suffer from a lot of discrimination, and just over a third (37%) say there is a lot of discrimination against women in the U.S. today.)

Now, this is great news. No, no, not the part about being discriminated against - we all know how that makes everything so much harder.

What is good, though, is that people are aware of the discrimination, especially when it comes to LGBT folks. Our country treasures the ideal of equality, and the greater the perception of the inherent inequality of the treatment of our community, the sooner something will be done to improve things.

The survey also noted that younger people were more likely to perceive discrimination than older people. We've always known that youth was on our side - old ideologies and prejudices tend to die out and be replaced by a younger, more accepting, more hopeful generation.

We still have a long way to go, but the fact that the public sees the unfairness in how the gay community is treated bodes well for future progress.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Equality in the News September 5th-11th

Thanks again to our intern Jennifer for rounding up this week's news!

Happy Friday Everyone! I hope you all enjoyed your Labor Day festivities, along with the shortened work week…well for some of us. Here are this week’s news briefs:

In The State

Wilmington Activists Rally for Hate Crimes Legislation

On Thursday afternoon, LGBT rights advocates convened in front of the New Hanover County Courthouse to raise awareness of the need for broader hate crimes legislation. Read all about it and watch the WWAY News Channel video here.

Dispatches from the Carolinas on the National Equality March

Movement leaders from North and South Carolina, including our own Ian Palmquist, weigh in on the National Equality March in this week's

In The Nation

The SC Pride Movement Marks 20 Years

This weekend marks two decades of Pride organizing in the state of South Carolina! An estimated 6,000 community members were in attendance at last year's event, and this year's Pride will be sponsored by both the City of Columbia and Richland County, among others. More on that from Q-Notes.

Six LGBT Americans Headed to the DNC

Six openly LGBT Democrats plan to join the 447-member Democratic National Committee as at-large members. The nominees are: Terry Bean (Portland, Oregon), Earl Fowlkes (Washington, D.C.), Evan Low (Campbell, Calif), Lupe Valdex (Dallas, Texas), Barbra Casbar Siperstein (New Jersey), and Randi Weingarten (New York). See the whole story, as announced by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.

Impact of Health Care Debate on LGBT-Focused Bills

What does the future look like for proposed LGBT legislation at the federal level, and how will the health care debate impact it? Southern Voice tackles these and other questions, and includes a handy sidebar (courtesy of the Washington Blade) listing federal bills with direct ties to LGBT rights.

In the World

Apology Issued to Touring...57 Years Late

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued an apology to Alan Turing, 55 years after Turing took his own life and 57 years after he was convicted of "gross indecency" for having a relationship with a man. Turing was a mathematician who, during WWII, used his skills to crack German codes. More from the BBC News.

That’s it for today, I hope you all the wonderful Fall weather this weekend!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

GLSEN Publishes Journal Article on Hostile School Environment

GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) has just had a great article published in the August issue of the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

This article, "Who, What, Where, When, and Why: Demographic and Ecological Factors Contributing to Hostile School Climate for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth," examines how regional, community-level and school-district level variables relate to hostile school climates for LGBT youth.

The article reveals that youth in rural and impoverished areas face increased levels of bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

GLSEN located survey participants through community-based groups serving LGBT youth and via the Internet. The sample consisted of a total of 6,209 LGBT K-12 students, from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, between the ages of 13 and 21.

Some of the major findings include:
  • Although there were high incidences of victimization of LGBT youth irrespective of region or locale, for LGBT youth, schools in rural communities were the more unsafe than schools in urban or suburban areas.

  • LGBT youth in higher poverty communities reported more victimization in school because of sexual orientation and gender expression than those in more affluent communities. Yet, they were less likely to hear homophobic remarks - both homophobic epithets and remarks using "gay" in a derogatory manner.

  • LGBT youth in communities with a higher proportion of college graduates were less likely to hear homophobic remarks or experience victimization based on sexual orientation.

  • Regional differences in tolerance and acceptance levels appear to be related to other community-level factors, such as educational attainment and income.
  • For more information or to order a copy of the journal or complete article, click here:
    Who, What, Where, When, and Why: Demographic and Ecological Factors Contributing to Hostile School Climate for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth

    Friday, September 4, 2009

    Equality in the News August 29th-September 4th

    By Equality NC Intern Jennifer

    Before reporting on this week’s headlines, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Jennifer and I will be picking up where Harmony left off. (I have big shoes to fill)! I’m interning (remotely) as a Communication’s intern out of Greenville.

    In the State….

    Marriage Discrimination Amendment in North Carolina

    The News & Observer ran a nasty column opposing marriage equality and calling for passage of a marriage discrimination constitutional amendment. We've got to keep up our efforts to stop this amendment when it comes up again in next year's legislative session!

    Chapel Hill to host Gay Travel Event

    Q-Notes reports that Chapel Hill, N.C. has become one of the most gay-friendly municipalities across the state of North Carolina. On September 24-27th Chapel Hill will host a “familiarization tour and symposium” for the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association . This event will attract travel trade professionals which will include media and tour planners. Events include cooking school at the kitchens of restaurant “A Southern Season” a private reception at an Antebellum Home, a back porch Musical concert and historic tours and chats with LGBT elected officials and others. For more information on this upcoming event click here:

    MeckPAC releases Primary Choices

    Q-Notes reports that on Thursday August 27th The Mecklenburg Gay and Lesbian Political Action Committee (MeckPAC) held its pre-election party at the Morehead Inn and endorsed seven candidates for the Charlotte City Council. This will make the first time MeckPAC endorsed two candidates in the same race as City Council District 1 primary will pit incumbent Patsy Kinsey and openly gay Owen Sutkowski against each other. Charlotte and Mecklenburg County voters head to the polls for their primary election on September 15, while other N.C. municipalities hold primary elections on Oct 6th. A general election will be held November 3rd.

    Two Carolina Gay Pubs Merge

    Q-Notes reports that the publisher of three LGBT-focused publications in the Carolinas is happy to report that his company is growing even in a time of economic uncertainty. Stereotypd’s Lin Orndorf, Proscha Yount and QnQ Network’s Jamie Seabolt announced on August 24th that they plan to merge their companies. Currently Stereotypd is a monthly publication with a print circulation of 8,000 copies while QnQ Carolina Edition has a bi-weekly print circulation of 5,000 copies.

    In the Nation…

    N.Y. Governor Paterson Recommits Himself to Same-Sex Marriage

    The Advocate reports that New York Governor Paterson recommits himself to including same-sex marriage on the agenda. Paterson quotes “After the loss of Proposition 8 in California, I’ve sensed a little confusion and maybe stunned reaction from a lot of the advocates…legalizing same-sex marriage in New York could help reignite the momentum started in the Northeastern states earlier this year.”

    New Judge for Supreme Court?

    The New York Time reports that there has been speculation that Justice John Paul Stevens (90) is preparing to leave the supreme court. Justice John Paul Stevens has been one of the most reliable friends of gays and lesbians. He is most noted for cases such as 2003’s Lawrence v. Texas (where he stated the decriminalization of gay sex should have happened years before the 2003 case), Romer v. Evans (preventing municipalities from enacting antidiscrimination protections of LGBT people).

    Reno, N.V. approves domestic Partner Benefits

    The Gay and Lesbian Times reports that The Reno City council adopted a resolution that will extent health care benefits to domestic partner (whether gay or straight), who register with the Nevada secretary of state under a new state law. Council members agree the decision is an issue of “fairness”. Other entities offering similar benefits to employees’ domestic partners are the Washoe County School District and the cities of Las Vegas and Henderson.

    N.J. Catholic Bishops Campaign Against Same-Sex Marriage

    The Gay and Lesbian Times in association with the Associated Press report that N.J. Roman Catholic bishops have begun a new campaign opposing marriage equality. The push comes from anticipation of a possible vote on the issue after the November election. A 2,300-word letter was distributed in parish bulletins last Sunday stating the long-standing Catholic teaching that marriage is “the union of one man and one woman”. Currently New Jersey already recognizes civil unions for same-sex couples.

    Referendum in Washington over Gay Partnerships

    The Associated Press reports that a referendum on an expansion of Washington’s domestic partnership law for gay couples has qualified for the November ballot. This decision was finalized Monday. Supporters of the expansion asked King County Superior Court judge to temporarily block the referendum from the ballot because of election officials accepting thousands of invalid petition signatures. If the referendum leads to a rejection of the law’s expansion legislation approved in 2007 and 2008 would be retained, but it would roll back the additional rights granted in the “everything but marriage bill” To read more about this story click here:

    In The World

    Moscow court Lesbian Marriage Causes Drama

    The News & Observer reports that on Wednesday a case seeking to allow a lesbian couple to marry in Russia sparked debate inside a Moscow courtroom. In protest to the holdup in proceedings the two women locked lips outside of the courtroom. Homosexuality has been decriminalized in Russia, but there is little support for gay rights.

    Embassies support Budapest Pride

    The Gay & Lesbian Times reports that thirteen embassies in Hungary issued a statement August 28 in support of Budapest’s 14th gay Pride events. Starting with a parade September 5th, the weeklong festivities include music, parties, an “antifascist demonstration,” workshops, an open-mic night, a picnic and a wreath-laying ceremony at the grave of Karoly Kertbeny who “invented the term homosexuality,” according to Pride organizers. Last year right-wing extremists attacked the parade’s 1,500 marches and fought with police afterward.

    Uruguay OK’s Gay Adoption:

    The Gay & Lesbian Times reports that on August 27th Uruguay’s Chamber of Deputies voted 40-13 to let same-sex couples adopt children. The Roman Catholic Church has fought against the measure, suggesting it violates natural law and human rights.

    U.K. Foreign Office to Fund Foreign Gay-Rights Cases

    The Gay & Lesbian Times reports that the United Kingdom’s Foreign office will help pay for legal challenges to gay rights in repressive nations such as Jamaica, Nigeria, Egypt, Iraq and Iran. Gay Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Chris Bryant stated that British missions will also focus on gay legal issues in Ghana, Colombia, Uzbekistan and other nations.

    That’s all for this week! I look forward to updating everyone on LGBT news throughout this semester!

    Wednesday, September 2, 2009

    Women's Equality Day

    Last week the president issued a proclamation for Women's Equality Day, 2009.

    This day is celebrated on August 26 of each year. First established in 1971, the date commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, woman's suffrage, to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women full voting rights in 1920.

    Congressional Rep. Bella Abzug (D-NY) spearheaded the Women's Equality Day initiative. Known as "Battling Bella" and "Hurricane Bella," Abzug was a dedicated women's advocate who worked to promote the Equal Rights Amendment, the needs of working mothers, sexual nondiscrimination, national day care centers, and yes, gay rights.

    Isn't homophobia just an extension of gender discrimination, after all? Antigay sentiment is a manifestation of the idea that there are certain distinct ways for men and women to act and to relate to each other. If people were truly treated equally, if gender identity and expression were irrelevant, then sexual orientation wouldn't matter.

    Check of the National Women's Hall of Fame to celebrate the progress women have made, as well as to rededicate efforts to achieve equality of the sexes - and sexual orientations - in our country.