By Jennifer Sheppard, intern
TGIF everyone! This week has been another exciting (and in some cases not so exciting) news week!
Big news of course is the U.S. Senate's vote to pass the Defense Authorization bill, which includes the hate crimes law! The bill now goes to President Obama for his signature, which is expected next week. This is a huge step for our country. North Carolina's Senators split on the issue, with Kay Hagan voting for the bill and Richard Burr voting against.
Singer Banned for Derogatory Language
Singer Matt Boswell was banned from Reidsville, N.C. this week when he used a derogatory term for LGBT’s during a replay of his performance at the city’s annual Fall Festival. Douglas Austin (who was in attendance to the event) emailed the local television station requesting that Matt Boswell’s offensive words be edited from his televised performance, however, the city of Reidsville decided to ban Boswell from performing at any future city-sponsored events. Matt Boswell’s outburst has sparked surprise among some fans who state, “he’s always been generous with his talent and time.” Hopefully in the future Mr. Boswell will learn how to be respectful all of the time, instead of half of the time.
Judge refuses to dismiss equal marriage ban lawsuit
On Wednesday, a federal judge challenged the backers of California’s voter-enacted ban on equal marriage to explain how enforcing equal marriage threatens conventional unions. U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker and Charles Cooper (a lawyer for the group that sponsored Prop 8) came during a hearing on a lawsuit challenging the measure as a discriminatory under the U.S. Constitution. Andy Pugno (general counsel to the coalition of religious and social conservative groups behind Prop 8) stated that supporters of equal marriage, “were trying to persuade the judge to substitute their views for those expressed by voters” He continued to state, “…the voters who passed Prop 8 are on trial in this case and they continue to be accused of being irrational and bigoted for restoring the traditional definition of marriage.”
Court blocks names in partnership referendum
On Tuesday the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily blocked Washington state officials from releasing the names of people who signed referendum petitions to bring expanded rights for same-sex couples for a public vote in November. The court stated that its order would remain in effect while it decides whether to take up a request by Protect Marriage Washington, the group that wants to reverse the ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Referendum 71 asks voters to approve or reject “everything but marriage” law, which grants registered domestic partners the same legal rights as married couples.
Justice Department Seeks Action vs. Discrimination
Recently, the Obama administration stated that they will seek to fight discrimination against members of the LGBT community. In the past the Justice Department has only had a small role in protecting the rights of the LGBT community. Tom Perez (the assistant attorney general in charge of the department’s Civil Rights Division) stated that pending legislation in Congress will allow the department to attack discrimination against members of the LGBT community. Twenty-one states already have laws prohibiting workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and 12 extend those laws to gender identity. Several other states protect public employees who are LGBT.
Mississippi Teen Fights for Yearbook Photo
Recently, 17-year-old Ceara Sturgis took her senior photographs in a tuxedo. Traditionally, female students in her district dress in drapes and males where tuxedos. School officials are trying to ban Ceara’s photo from appearing in the 2009-10 yearbook. The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi has become involved issuing a demand letter to the principal to publish the photo of Ceara. ACLU says it is giving the school until October 23rd to respond before pursuing court action. The deadline for the photo to be accepted for the yearbook was September 30th, but advertisements for the publication are still being taken so Ceara still has time for her photo to be included. Let’s hope Ceara is able to keep her yearbook photo and have it published in her yearbook! How cruel would it be to deny a student who rightfully took photos as her other classmates did, to not publish hers because of traditional, conservative views?
Russian LGBT community expresses disappointment in Clinton
On Wednesday Russia’s leading LGBT activist stated that he was disappointed in the secretary of state (Hillary Rodham Clinton) because she met with an outspoken foe of LGBT rights during her two-day trip to Russia and did not decry discrimination towards members of the LGBT community in the country. Hilary Clinton attended a ceremony unveiling a statue of Walt Whitman at Moscow State University with Russian officials including Moscow Mayor, Yuri Luzhkov (who has blocked attempts to hold pride marches in Moscow). The statue of Walt Whitman was placed in the gardens of Moscow State University, where in May more than 30 LGBT activists were arrested for attempting to hold a pride march.
Well, those are the briefs for this week. I’m off for a short weekend in sunny Tampa! I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.