Friday, October 9, 2009

Equality in the News October 2-8

Happy Friday….I’m actually writing from Virginia and let me tell you, it is beautiful up here. The leaves are starting to change colors and the days are getting shorter. There isn’t much longer until the holiday season! I have quite a bit of news to report today…so jump it!



Blue Ridge Pride is Tomorrow!

...and we'll be there, along with supporters of equal rights from across Western NC. Read all about the event in the Mountain Xpress, which includes a peek behind the scenes to show the many amazing organizers who have been carefully planning this year's Pride for months. They promise a "family friendly" day, where participants will "come together in high-profile gatherings to connect, be recognized and revitalize their activism." Sounds like a great time!

The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later

On Monday (the 11th anniversary of Matthew Sheppard’s death), New York will give fresh meaning to the term “world premiere,” with more than 140 simultaneous, one-night only productions occurring throughout the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Spain, Hong Kong and Australia. Currently, Winston-Salem’s Paper Lantern Theatre Company & Raleigh’s Burning Coal are the only North Carolina companies participating. The audiences at most of these stagings will participate in an interactive, web-based simulcast with the New York premiere at the Lincoln Center. Director Ian Finley finds the center question of the epilogue to be: “How do we create the story that defines our communities?” With only a handful of tickets left at press time, company officials were considering adding a second show Monday afternoon to accommodate demand. Proceeds from the Burning Coal event will go to Equality North Carolina Foundation, and those from Paper Lantern will go to the Adam Foundation and the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

Greensboro Billboard Stirs Emotions

Last week, the Triad Equality Alliance unveiled a billboard in Greensboro above the Battleground Avenue near Cone Blvd. The billboard will “open up the debate over equal marriage,” according to the group. One of the couples on the billboard [Pearl Berlin and Ellen (Lennie) Gerber] are more than happy to be featured. They have been together over four decades and believe that the only thing that is missing in their relationship is the wedding. Greensboro citizens seem to be torn about the billboard the message it conveys. I hope the billboard opens the eyes to some of the citizens of the city to become more proactive towards equal marriage.

Hickory Resident Moves from LGBT Acrimony to Advocacy

Brent Childers of NC-based Faith in America details his journey from self-proclaimed religious bigot to outspoken advocate for LGBT rights in this Newsweek web exclusive.


Missouri finds Discrimination to be a Destructive Cancer

Second-parent adoption is a hot button issue in North Carolina and across the country. In Montana, Justice James Nelson sided with a 6-1 majority on the state supreme court that upheld a ruling giving parental rights to a Missoula woman who had been in a 10-year relationship with another woman that included two children legally adopted by her partner. Justice Nelson used strong language to get his point across that LGBT rights are human rights.

Nelson is quoted as saying that discrimination against LGBT individuals is “a prevalent societal cancer grounded in bigotry and hate…I remain absolutely convinced….that homosexuals are entitled to enjoy precisely the same civil and natural rights as heterosexuals, as a matter of a constitutional law.”

A Texas Divorce?

On Thursday, a Texas judge cleared the way for two Dallas men to get a divorce. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott argued that because the state doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, its courts can’t dissolve one through divorce. District Judge Callahan ruled that the court “has jurisdiction to hear a suit for divorce filed by persons legally married in another jurisdiction,” meaning the court can legally grant the couple a divorce. There is a lot of disagreement among Texas citizens on this issue, but as with equal marriage, ALL American citizens should have the right to a marriage, or divorce, if they so chose to.

Congress Votes to Extend Hate Crimes to Include Sexual Orientation

The US Congress voted Thursday to classify anti-LGBT violence as federal hate crimes, as part of a military policy bill. The bill would extend protections to those attacked based on a variety of factors, including sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, military service or gender. Next stop: the US Senate!

National Equality March in Washington

Thirty years ago, gay rights activists staged their first national march in Washington D.C. Now, thirty years later, thousands of advocates are preparing to rally again in the nation’s capital this weekend. The march is to bring many of the same issues to the public's attention such as: bills to outlaw job discrimination based on sexual orientation, the extension of existing hate crimes legislation, and a presidential order allowing LGBT soldiers to serve openly in the military. On the eve of the march, President Obama plans to deliver the keynote address at a dinner in Washington sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign. Urvashi Vaid, whose private foundation gave $50,000 to support the march, stated that the weekend would also showcase progress. Legally married same-sex couples, straight supporters and members of mainstream religious denominations are among those planning to attention. These alliances would have been unimaginable 30 years ago.

Speaking of Washington…

On Tuesday a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry in D.C. The bill was nearly certain to pass the D.C. city council, but becoming a law will prove to be more complicated because Congress gets a chance to review D.C. legislation before it takes effect. The good news is, Congressional leaders acknowledge that the bill is likely to become a law!

Non-Maine Natives in support of Maine’s Campaign to Keep Marriage Equal

On November 3rd, citizens of Maine will go to the polls to decide whether to uphold the state’s equal marriage law or overturn it. It will be the first time voters in a state will decide the fate of same-sex marriage law approved by the Legislature. Pam Perkins, a North Carolina native, flew up to Maine using frequent-flyer miles donated by a supporter of equal marriage through a program called “Travel for Change.” Pam says she has spent much of her time making phone calls to Maine citizens to gain their support in the campaign. Many other out-of-staters are up in Maine showing their support for the campaign. I wish them all the best. It is wonderful to have so much support on such a pressing issue.

President Obama chooses an openly gay lawyer for ambassadorship

On Wednesday, President Obama plans to nominate an openly gay lawyer as the United States ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa. If confirmed by the Senate, David Huebner would become the third openly gay ambassador in United States history and the first pick by the Obama administration.


Russian Court Rules Against Same-Sex Couple

This past Tuesday a Moscow court ruled against a two women seeking to become Russia’s first legally married same-sex couple. The couple’s lawyer, Nikolai Alexeyev, who is a longtime Russian gay rights activist, told reporters that they plan to fight the ruling. The couple plans to fly to Canada later on this month to marry and then return to Russia in order to force authorities to recognize the marriage. Congrats to the couple for not giving up on their rights. However, it’s still a shame that in order to have their union recognized they need to fly to another country. Hopefully Russia revisits equal marriage; and quickly.

French Soccer Team Snubbed by Muslim Team

Recently, a French gay soccer team believes that its members were victims of homophobia when a team of Muslim players refused to play a match against them. The team states that it received an email from the Creteil Bebel club canceling a match scheduled for last Sunday. The email read: “…because of the principles of our team, which is a team of devout Muslims, we can’t play against you…our convictions are much more important than a simple football match.” Creteil Bebel, told French-info radio that he apologized if anyone “felt upset or hurt.” Too little too late Bebel, too little too late…

That’s all I have for now! Have a great weekend & tune in for more briefs next week!

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