Lambda Legal and The Center for HIV Law & Policy (CHLP), joined by eight other civil rights organizations, have submitted a friend-of-the-court brief asking the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to overturn an Immigration Judge’s ruling denying a Jamaican immigrant’s application for deferral of removal to Jamaica under the U.N Convention Against Torture (CAT).
“The Immigration Judge relied on stereotypes that greatly oversimplify the complicated journey may lesbians and gay men travel in coming to terms with their sexual orientation, and in determining to whom they come out,” Lambda Legal Senior Staff Attorney Thomas W. Ude, Jr. said. “How do you prove to a judge that you are gay? Denying protection against torture in Jamaica based on stereotyped assumptions about the process of coming out is unjust. Relationship histories can be complicated for anyone, but this can be particularly true for LGB people from homophobic environments. Given the level of violence LGB people face in Jamaica, a decision that fails to acknowledge this complexity virtually guarantees that LGB immigrants will be sent to very dangerous conditions.”
The brief authored by Lambda Legal and CHLP concerns the case of Anthony, who immigrated to the United States when he was a teenager. He explained to the Immigration Judge that he realized he was gay when he was 25 but – like many other LGB people – continued to struggle for years to come to terms with his sexual orientation, both because of homophobia in his family and community, and reinforced by the antigay religious views of his family. He explained that while navigating his coming out process, he fathered two children. He also presented testimony from both a former and current romantic partner to support his own testimony about his sexual orientation.
“Anthony” is a pseudonym, because the immigrant seeking relief has requested anonymity based on his fear that if he is identified as a gay man, he will be tortured and killed if he is removed to Jamaica.
In the ruling, the immigration judge concluded that Anthony had not proved he was gay, pointing to the children, Anthony’s earlier relationships with women, and to testimony that Anthony had not told his children or their mothers that he is gay. However, in the friend-of-the-court brief, Lambda Legal and CHLP cite several studies documenting that for many LGB individuals, acknowledging that one is lesbian, gay or bisexual is often a prolonged process.
“Gay men can face a uniquely intense form of persecution in Jamaica,” said CHLP Legal Director Iván Espinoza-Madrigal. “Homophobia and ignorance about HIV are reflected in, and compounded by, the widely-held perception in Jamaica of gay men as vectors of disease. Gay men are presumed to be HIV positive and treated as dangerous to be around regardless of their actual HIV status.”
Lambda Legal and CHLP are joined by the following organizations as co-amici on this brief: the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, the National Association of Social Workers, the National Association of Social Workers Connecticut Chapter, the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, the National Black Justice Coalition, the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut.
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“We are incredibly excited to have Catie Curtis as the first brand ambassador for TomboyX,” said Fran Dunaway, CEO of Tomboy Exchange. “She’s a creative, talented woman who has never been afraid to stand up for what she believes in.”
The New Yorker dubbed her a folk-rock goddess and according to TomboyX she’s strong, smart and awesome – the perfect TomboyX woman.
“Sometimes I feel like an impostor in the women’s department, with its frills, flowers and bows–while men’s clothes don’t fit me either,” said Catie.” I’m so grateful to have discovered TomboyX where the clothing is made for women like me!”
Along with being a talented musician she is a role model. Catie started the “Aspire to Inspire” initiative to provide funding to the ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers). The Foundation helps raise funds to purchase instruments for young musicians who can’t afford to buy their own.
As her music progresses to inspire, so does her Philanthropy. After benefit concerts for Americans United for Separation of Church and State in 2012, Catie and a group of well known comedians took on a music video for Voices United 2– including Jane Lynch from Glee.
Look for Catie’s collaboration with TomboyX when the TomboyX Original Collection launches in July.
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Dr. Lauren Boswell (Hilarie Burton) is certainly stirring up a storm with Grey’s Anatomy’s power couple, Callie (Sara Ramirez) and Arizona (Jessica Capshaw), affectionately known as “Calzona.”
On the show’s season finale, Lauren shamelessly flirted with Arizona, causing even more tension between her already rocky marriage, and fans were not happy about it. In fact, Burton told Huffington Post she was receiving death threats.
“I don’t engage in social media, which has its good and bad sides, I guess – but the good side is when people hate my guts, I’m kind of oblivious to it. I’m just worried about my kid and my dog here at the house,” she said.
Lauren is a complex character because she is both good at her job and engaging, but also the “other woman,” which was something Burton found tricky to portray.
“I don’t flirt [with] married people but Lauren does,” Burton said. “So that’s what I had to do for a couple days. You just buck up and get your flirt on.”
And get their flirt on they did. Grey’s Anatomy is now on hiatus until the fall. Will Calzona still be intact when we see them next?
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Tuesday, as the Pentagon’s annual report on sexual assault showed an alarming increase in cases, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) introduced the Combating Military Sexual Assault (MSA) Act of 2013. In an effort to reduce sexual assaults within the military and help the victims of this crime, the Combating MSA Act would address a number of gaps within current law and policy and build upon the positive steps the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has taken in recent years. According to DoD estimates, there were about 19,000 cases of military sexual assault in 2011 alone. Of these, 3,192 were reported, leaving thousands of victims to face the aftermath alone as their assailants escape justice. That number rose to 26,000 cases in 2012 with less than 3,400 of those cases being reported.
“When our best and our brightest put on a uniform and join the United States Armed Forces, they do so with the understanding that they will sacrifice much in the name of defending our country and its people. However, it’s unconscionable to think that entertaining unwanted sexual contact from within the ranks is now part of that equation,” said Murray.
“Not only are we subjecting our men and women to this disgusting epidemic, but we’re also failing to provide the victims with any meaningful support system once they have fallen victim to these attacks. And while I applaud recent efforts by the Department of Defense to turn the tide on this mounting crisis, we must do more to root out the culture that fosters this behavior and provide substantive assistance to those who face these tragedies alone,” Murray said, adding: “I am proud to join Senator Ayotte in introducing the Combating Military Sexual Assault Act, to reverse this trend and establish the necessary means for victims to take action against their attackers. It’s inexcusable for us to wait any longer to address this issue and I’m glad this bipartisan legislation is taking meaningful steps to do right by our nation’s heroes.”
Ayotte said, “The United States continues to have the best military in the world—primarily because of the character, quality, and courage of our men and women in uniform. But when a service member fails to live up to our values and commits sexual assault, we must ensure the victims have the support they need and the perpetrators face justice.”
“Sexual assault presents a serious threat to the morale, discipline, and readiness of our armed forces. I look forward to working with DoD, Senator Murray, and my Senate colleagues to strengthen existing laws and policies so that all victims can come forward without fear of retribution and with confidence that they will receive the support, care, and justice they deserve,” Ayotte added.
The Combating MSA Act would:
- Provide victims of sexual assault with Special Victims’ Counsel (SVC) – a military lawyer who will assist sexual assault victims throughout the process.
- Enhance the responsibilities and authority of DoD’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Office so that it can better oversee efforts to combat MSA across the Armed Forces and regularly track and report on a range of MSA statistics, including assault rate, number of cases brought to trial, and compliance with appropriate laws and regulations within each of the individual services.
- Refer cases to the general court martial level when sexual assault charges are filed or to the next superior competent authority when there is a conflict of interest in the immediate chain of command.
- Bar sexual contact between instructors and trainees during and within 30 days of completion of basic training or its equivalent.
- Ensure that Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARC) are available to members of the National Guard and Reserve at all times and regardless of whether they are operating under Title 10 or Title 32 authority.
Last month, Murray questioned the Honorable Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy, and General James Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, about the alarming rate of reported sexual assaults within the Marine Corps. In the coming weeks, Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH) will introduce companion legislation to the Combating MSA Act in the House of Representatives.
During a Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee hearing in March, Ayotte questioned DoD officials about a January report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that identified problems in ensuring proper care for service members who are victims of sexual assault.
Ayotte is a former prosecutor who has worked extensively with victims. During her time as New Hampshire’s Attorney General, she chaired the Governor’s Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence.
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Jason Collins took a huge step in major American sports by coming out today. ”If I had my way, somebody would have already done this…I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport but since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation.”
The support has been pouring in.
Kobe Bryant “Don’t suffocate who you are because of the ignorance of others”
Bill Clinton “I’m proud to call Jason Collins a friend”
Nick Swisher “I will always support people for being who they are”
The Rock “Being real and authentic is very powerful”
A Catholic high school in Columbus, Ohio has fired Carla Hale, a teacher of 19 years, after she was outed as a lesbian in her mother’s obituary.
The obituary mentioned her “partner” Julie and a parent of a student at Bishop Watterson High School told the school.
Hale was fired through a termination letter. According to Digital Journal she was shocked because “she said that her sexual orientation and her life with her female partner were never brought up at school and did not affect her work there.”
Hale plans on fighting for her job back and the Dispatch story claims that Hale may have been illegally fired. According to Columbus law, discriminating against an employee based on sexual orientation is illegal. Plus, Hale said many other teachers are living common-in-law, divorced or are using birth control – all actions that are not in compliance with the Catholic Church.
Hale isn’t the only one upset by her termination. The students at Bishop Watterson started an online petition on change.org that has over 56,000 signatures.
“She was a teacher who cared for her students and treated each one with respect,” student Jackson Garrity wrote on the petition. “The diocese, however, did not reciprocate that respect in its treatment of her. It’s unfair that someone who cared so much about her students and her job should lose them on the basis of something she cannot even control.”
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Last Friday, the Boy Scouts of America proposed maintaining its ban on adult gay leaders, while dropping the ban on gay scouts. Several faith leaders quickly expressed their disappointment in the proposed policy change.
All faith leaders continued to call for a fully inclusive scouting program that included qualified gay leaders, even while some expressed joy that gay scouts would no longer be removed.
The Rev. Peter Morales, President of the Unitarian (UUA), issued the following statement:
While long opposing the BSA’s discriminatory policies, the UUA has consistently noted the many benefits that scouting offers to boys and young men, and we applaud the fact that these benefits will potentially be available to all boys and young men who want to participate in scouting. However, it is abhorrent to continue to discriminate against scout leaders.
As a religious community, Unitarian Universalists are called to affirm the worth and dignity of every person regardless of sexual orientation. Starting in 1985, the UUA has spoken out in opposition to the BSA’s discriminatory practices.
This resolution further illustrates how the BSA remains out of touch and inconsistent with their own values of respect and kindness, but also with the changing attitudes of the American public.
The proposed resolution from the BSA is a step in the right direction, but it falls short of ensuring equality for gay scout leaders. Unitarian Universalists remain hopeful that there is still time to persuade the BSA to move from discrimination and prejudice to inclusion and respect for all Americans who wish to participate in scouting.
The United Church of Christ, which sponsors over 1,000 troops, cheered that gay scouts would be accepted by the Boy Scouts of America, but expressed bitter disappointment at the continued ban on gay adult leaders. Rev. Michael Schuenemeyer, United Church of Christ Minister for LGBT Concerns said the following:
Because youth are a primary concern, I support the proposed Boy Scouts of America (BSA) resolution to change their membership policies to allow gay youth to participate in scouting programs. I urge the delegates at the upcoming Annual Meeting to adopt the change and I encourage the scouting program to take all the necessary steps to welcome gay scouts, and provide a safe and nurturing space for their full participation.
At the same time, I’m dismayed by the decision to maintain the current “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy with regard to gay scout leaders. This aspect of the proposal sends a mixed message to both youth and adults. It communicates to youth that if you’re “out” about being gay you will not be allowed to one day become an adult scout leader and share the leadership and other skills you have learned; a not so subtle message that you are not as good as your fellow straight scouts. To adults, it communicates that if you want to be a scout leader you must stay in the closet about your sexual orientation, compromise your integrity and live with the stress that should someone choose to out you, or you decide to come out, you must face the scandal of being removed. This current policy of excluding gay scout leaders is inconsistent with the core values of scouting and there is no good reason for it to continue.
Emily Eastwood, Executive Director of Reconciling Works: Lutherans for Full Participation, noted the tension that many Lutheran congregations feel about being welcoming to all people, while sponsoring a troop that continues to practice discrimination. Currently, Lutheran churches sponsor nearly 4,000 troops across the country.
Lutherans are one of the biggest groups of Christians in the United States. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of Lutheran congregations throughout the United States that host Boy Scout troops. Many of these congregations welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people not only on Sunday mornings at worship, but also LGBT people who may be part of the Boy Scout troop that uses the building at other times. When these churches say all are welcome, they really mean all. To accept gay scouts but not openly gay leaders results in a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” double standard. This standard would be detrimental to gay scouts who would come to believe that in order to succeed they would have to hide who they are.
We applaud the faithful service of the many scouts and troop leaders of all sexual orientations and gender identities whose work is a witness to what Scouting is all about – helping boys develop values such as loyalty, helpfulness, kindness, thrift, bravery, and duty to God. We call upon the leadership of the Boy Scouts of America to set a policy that welcomes and includes all.
GLAAD first started calls for the Boy Scouts of America to end its ban on gay scouts and scout leaders in April 2012 after Jennifer Tyrrell, a mom and den leader from Ohio was removed from her seven-year-old’s Cub Scout Pack for being gay. Tyrrell’s Change.org petition has attracted more than 330,000 signatures in support of ending the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay Scouts and leaders.
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As the debate for marriage equality continues across the country, slowly but surely U.S. Senators are starting to voice their support for gay marriage. Just this week six Senators came out in favor of the issue, following in the tracks of Republican Mark Kirk and Rob Portman who have already voiced their support.
According to Attorney and marriage equality advocate Jill Metz, 23 U.S. Senators have formally endorsed same-sex marriage thus far, and that number is only expected to increase. “The tide is turning in the Senate,” says Metz. “While the number of formal endorsements is slowly growing, at the very least many politicians are open to changing their opinion, something that would have been unheard of even a few years ago.”
Metz explains that many of the Senators who have voiced their support admit their newfound stance on the subject had evolved. “A support system has begun to develop in Congress which may give public figures who are teetering on the border the courage to go over the edge,” says Metz.
NEW ZEALAND Gay Marriage
More than 1000 Australian same-sex couples say they will fly to New Zealand to get hitched if a bill to legalise gay marriage passes through Parliament.
Politicians are expected to back gay marriage in a vote, making New Zealand the 13th country to do so.
LGBT Leaders urge the Space Needle in Seattle to fly the flag
Ten lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) organizations have banded together to urge the Space Needle Corporation to fly the rainbow flag annually during the month of Pride and to settle a fair contract soon that includes living wages, continued benefits, job security, and strong anti-discrimination language for sexual orientation and gender identity. The sponsoring organizations are: LGBTQ Allyship, PrideFest, Entre Hermanos, Ingersoll Gender Center, The NW LGBT Senior Care Providers Network, Pride At Work AFL-CIO, Social Outreach Seattle, The Seattle Lesbian, Trans Lives Matter, and Gender Justice League representing tens of thousands of LGBTQ and allied individuals. The Seattle LGBT Commission sent letters to the Seattle City Council and Mayor McGinn recommending the mayor and City Council support these two requests. The Space Needle Corporation has not yet agreed to either request.
LGBTQ persons make up a significant percentage of the hospitality industry workforce in the greater Seattle area. Workers at the Space Needle have gone for two years without a contract and are currently seeking a contract that guarantees fair working conditions, including living wages, health care benefits, and job security. LGBTQ communities in Seattle and around the country experience higher rates of being uninsured and unemployed than the national average. Advocating for living wages and access to affordable health care in the hospitality industry directly impacts LGBTQ communities.
The Space Needle Corporation flew the flag in 2010. In 2011, they flew the flag after compelling the LGBTQ community to raise $50,000 for four LGBTQ organizations. In 2012, during the drive for marriage equality, the Space Needle refused to fly the rainbow flag.
Cartoon Network continues its vital conversation with kids and families about speaking up against bullying with a special presentation of THE BULLY EFFECT on Sunday, April 28 at 5:30 and 8 p.m. (ET/PT). Produced in partnership with Cartoon Network as part of its award-winning Stop Bullying: Speak Upinitiative and presented commercial-free, THE BULLY EFFECT is a half-hour CNN original documentary abridged for family audiences and features additional original content, including a special introduction by Cartoon Network President/COO Stuart Snyder as well as a candid conversation with CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, who hosts the documentary and is a recognized advocate for bullying prevention. Concurrent with and immediately following both telecasts of THE BULLY EFFECT, author and renowned bullying prevention expert Rosalind Wiseman will host an exclusive, live online chat at StopBullyingSpeakUp.com to answer questions from youth, parents and educators.
THE BULLY EFFECT chronicles the journey of 14-year-old Alex Libby, whose emotional life is both restored and wonderfully activated because someone spoke up in his defense against bullying. In 2011, filmmaker Lee Hirsch embedded himself in schools across America and captured footage so raw and eye-opening, it sounded alarm bells and helped create a tipping point about how critical the issue of bullying has become. Hirsch documented a then 12-year-old Alex, who was confronted with slurs, threats and beatings on the school bus nearly every day. Following supportive intervention from an adult on his behalf, today he has become an anti-bullying rock star with appearances on national television and a visit to the White House.
“For three years now through Stop Bullying: Speak Up, Cartoon Network has served to provide valuable resources and materials to help educate and empower kids to speak up whenever bullying occurs,” said Snyder, president and COO for Turner Broadcasting’s Animation, Young Adults & Kids Media division. “Our first documentary, Speak Up, illustrated what kids could do practically to help other kids who’ve experienced bullying. THE BULLY EFFECT takes that message one step further, demonstrating how powerful empathy and understanding can be in helping to turn someone’s life around. I hope this program will encourage sensitive, open dialogue between kids, their parents and teachers and continue to show the impact when one speaks up against bullying.”