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:

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