Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Top Trending Stories from LGBTQ Nation Magazine

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Today's Top Stories from LGBTQ Nation Magazine

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

You are no Tyler Clementi Miss Lewinsky

By Brody Levesque | WASHINGTON – I am repulsed and angered today by news that Monica Lewinsky is once again on front pages in what I cynically perceive as a well timed gambit to reemerge as the nation draws closer to the 2016 presidential campaign to taint a run by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by dredging up yet again her husband's peccadillo and womanizing.
But, what really angered me, was Ms. Lewinsky playing a sympathy card by comparing herself to 18 year old Tyler Clementi who committed suicide after a sexual encounter with a male friend was broadcast live over the internet.
In an essay piece that she wrote for Vanity Fair magazine that will be available digitally on May 8 and on newsstands May 13,  Lewinsky says she finally came forward about her experience because of Clementi:
“[T]hanks to the Drudge Report, I was also possibly the first person whose global humiliation was driven by the Internet," Lewinsky said.
Lewinsky added that  she and her mother were both disturbed by the circumstances surrounding Clementi's death.
“She was reliving 1998, when she wouldn’t let me out of her sight. She was replaying those weeks when she stayed by my bed, night after night, because I, too, was suicidal," Lewinsky said of her mother. "The shame, the scorn, and the fear that had been thrown at her daughter left her afraid that I would take my own life—a fear that I would be literally humiliated to death.” 
She hoped by telling her story, she "might be able to help others in their darkest moments of humiliation."
First, Clementi wasn't caught “in flagrant delicti” performing oral sex on the President of the United States in the study hallway right next to the oval office.  Nor was he in anyway, shape, or form a public figure.  No he was a young shy and for all intent “closeted” gay college freshman which is a far cry from a female intern in the hallways of the West Wing chasing the President. 
Ms.  Lewinsky, while you  might have been naive and possible victimized, albeit certainly by Matt Drudge and a portion of the press corps back during those troubling times, the fact remains that your coming public now, nearly four years after Tyler's death,  can be seen as a cheap political stunt with the only intent clearly being to embarrass the Clinton's as Secretary Clinton may be considering another run to sit behind the Resolute desk in the Oval Office.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Today's Top Stories from LGBTQ Nation Magazine

Friday, May 2, 2014

Biden on on LGBT discrimination- No downside on fighting it now

By Brody Levesque | WASHINGTON -- The one characteristic of Vice-President Joe Biden that can be counted on is his ability to be one step ahead of his boss on LGBTQ rights. In an interview published Wednesday, Biden tells the Huffington Post that the time is now to move ahead on an Executive order that would ban anti-gay discrimination in the workplace by federal contractors. If the president were to sign an executive order banning LGBT workplace discrimination, it would protect as many as 16 million federal employees.
"I don't see any downside," Biden said when asked about President Barack Obama's reluctance to take executive action on the issue. "The way to do this is to pass ENDA. That ends it everywhere."
However Biden did point out that in his opinion there was a better solution which was to have action on legislation currently pending on Capitol Hill. 
The Senate has passed the most recent version of ENDA last year but House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is refusing to bring it to the House floor for a vote. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act was first introduced in 1974, but lawmakers have failed to pass versions of the bill since then.
Currently twenty-nine states lack any form of workplace protections against discrimination for gay and lesbian employees, and four additional states allow employers to terminate employees based on gender identity as well. 
LGBTQ Advocacy groups have long pushed the Obama administration for an executive order, pointing out that as a candidate running in 2008 he had promised action on the issue but has since refused. Presidential spokesperson Jay Carney has consistently declined to answer questions regarding the president's inaction on ENDA when pressed, instead only acknowledging that the issue is under review.
Biden was asked to explain why Obama won't use his authority to ban workplace discrimination, particularly given the president's stance on LGBT rights.
"He doesn't have the ability to ban it," the vice president said, calling ENDA "the single best, most significant way to do this. I'm still hopeful."
The LGBT advocacy groups argue that even an Executive order would be more suitable than inaction on the part of the administration.
It’s not the first time the vice president has gotten out in front of Obama on issues related to LGBT equality. In May of 2012, Biden endorsed same-sex marriage, which was then followed several days later by Obama stating his support for allowing same-sex couples to be legally wed.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Retired Army Colonel offers burial plot to lesbian couple

STAFF REPORTS | BOISE, Idaho — A 74-year-old Navy veteran wants her deceased wife buried with her in the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery, but state officials have denied her request because Idaho doesn't recognize her same-sex marriage including Idaho's Republican Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter who told reporters, "I'm not going to comment any further," citing the state's current $1 million legal battle to defend its same-sex marriage ban.
That response didn't sit well with Barry Johnson, a retired U.S. Army colonel and resident of Potlatch, who wrote an open letter in the state's largest newspaper offering his burial plot to Madelynn Taylor, who says she went to the Veterans Cemetery to apply to be buried there with her wife when she passes away, taking the required discharge documents and a marriage certificate with her, but was told that couldn't happen.
“I thought they'd say okay because in any federal cemetery it is okay, in any national cemetery,” Taylor said. “I could take the same documents and get buried in Arlington if I needed to, with no problems. But here they said it’s a state veterans cemetery, not a national cemetery. So we have to go by the state laws.”
Johnson expressed his outrage writing;
[...] "I honestly couldn't care less if somebody is gay, or "straight" for that matter, just as I couldn't care less about somebody's anti-LGBT views. People seem to want you to be uptight one way or another about it, and I am content to simply respect somebody's differences without a lot of fuss as long as there's no harm done." he added. " It also seems to me that relationships can be awfully difficult no matter who you choose to be in one with. So if you find one that works … well, good for you. My hat is off to you."
Taylor and her late wife Jean Mixner married at a church retreat in Oregon in 1995, and formally in a California courthouse six years ago.
Taylor, who served six years in the Navy from 1958 to 1964, says that while she could be buried together in another veterans cemetery, she says as a longtime Idaho resident with brothers and sisters here, she doesn't want that option. She wants to be in Idaho’s Veterans Cemetery, with her wife by her side.
Johnson pointed out that in his eyes, a person's sexual orientation shouldn't be at issue;
"As a lifelong Idahoan and a 27-year Army veteran of two wars, I've worked beside heterosexuals, gays, lesbians and bisexuals. I've really never wanted to hear about anyone's sex life or sexual preferences, one way or another. Besides, everybody more or less knew who is who regardless, and I don't recall anybody in the military ever saying a thing about it. Never."
He then went on to offer his own burial space for the couple
"I'll tell you what. I will donate the plot I earned in the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery to you and Jean. I am happy to give my fellow veteran that small peace of mind. And I do it to honor all the great Americans I've served with along the way - gay, straight, whatever. (I don't know whether it is possible to donate my plot, but I am quite sincere about my willingness to do so.)
Like Madelynn, I love this state and I respect the views of all my neighbors, whether I agree with those views or not. At least having those differences makes for interesting conversations. But let's not pick on people who aren't hurting anybody and simply minding their own business."

It has been a decade of Same-Sex Couples marrying this month

NEW YORK -- Ten years ago Massachusetts became the first state in America where same-sex couples could share in the freedom to marry. Since then, 16 other states and Washington, DC have followed, resulting in 40% of Americans who now live in a state with the freedom to marry, up from zero a decade ago.
"The rapid and lasting progress of the freedom to marry movement is remarkable in the history of civil rights struggles,” said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry. “The shift in majority opinion since Massachusetts is a testament to Americans' inherent values of fairness, freedom, and family. We will keep making the case until we finish the job: the freedom to marry nationwide."
Same-sex couples began marrying in Massachusetts on May 17, 2004 following the landmark victory by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health. That first day of the freedom to marry in 2004 also marked the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education – “civil rights karma,” Wolfson hailed it at the time.
Freedom to Marry itself celebrated its 10th anniversary this year.
“All of this progress, this joy, this momentum, didn’t just happen,” said Wolfson at the anniversary celebration held Monday evening in New York.
“It wasn’t the product of one organization, one person, one case, one state, one battle, or even one decade. We celebrate our movement that made this all so … Thank you for joining us at this 10th anniversary party for Freedom to Marry. With your help, there will be no 15th [anniversary].” 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Today's Top trending stories from LGBTQ Nation Magazine

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Recent Upheaval in Ukraine adversely affects LGBT people

STAFF REPORTS | BRUSSELS -- New concerns regarding the safety and welfare of LGBTQ people in Ukraine were raised Monday by members of the European Union's Parliament.
recent report by NASH MIR Center, a Ukrainian LGBT organisation, reveals that homophobia, transphobia and violence against LGBT people are still widespread. 
A bill recently introduced into the Ukrainian parliament was withdrawn earlier this month which would have banned discrimination in the workplace including LGBT people, only to reintroduce the same bill without sexual orientation as a protected class.
That change in the bill runs counter to an EU requirement for visa liberalisation agreements.
Claude Moraes MEP, Rapporteur on Ukraine and Member of the LGBT Intergroup, reacted:
“It is extremely worrying that Ukraine’s government seems unwilling to adopt legislation that would ensure protection from discrimination to all people at work. LGBT people still face discrimination in every single area of life, and clearly need basic legal protection.” 
“The European Parliament’s position has always been clear on this.  Further visa liberalisation measures must go hand in hand with the adoption of anti-discrimination measures by the Verkhovna Rada as agreed, including sexual orientation.”
Additionally, the Crimean crisis has led to increased tensions for LGBT individuals in Ukraine, the territory of Crimea, and Russia. Following the Russian annexation of Crimea, LGBT people are now subjected to the anti-gay propaganda law signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin last June.
Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup and Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, said:
“The spread of these ‘anti-propaganda’ laws and the calls for further discriminatory restrictions are truly worrying. 
“It shows these laws started a dangerous trend of fear mongering and inciting hatred, whereby some wrongly think that it’s alright to restrict the rights of a group they dislike. The EU and the Council of Europe need to maintain pressure on Russian authorities.”
A pride event in Sebastopol, Crimea was banned following application of the law. It had been set to take place on 22-23 April.
Since the law was brought into practice last year, Vitaly Milonov, the Member of the Legislative Assembly of St Petersburg and the co-author of the law has called for more measures across the Russian Federation and its territories to “eradicate the experimental practice of sodomy.”

Facebook status outs gay scout and torpedoes a beloved summer camp job

By Brody Levesque | FLAGSTAFF -- For 19 year old Garrett Bryant, a Boy Scout since he was a small boy, summertime meant Boy Scout Camp and this summer, also a means to help pay for college- that is until a non gender specific 'relationship' status on Facebook forever altered his plans and his affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America.
Bryant who is gay, needed to keep that fact quiet due to his involvement with the BSA whose official policy is to bar openly gay men or women from serving in adult leadership positions.
The Arizona resident told LGBTQ Nation Tuesday that earlier this Spring he'd posted- in his words- a "gender neutral relationship status change" on his Facebook page, went to sleep and then realised hours later when he got up that while some of his immediate circle of close-knits friends knew of his sexual orientation, by necessity, he'd kept that secret as best as he could from his Scouting friends and leadership. He immediately logged on and saw one posted that read: " Awesome Man, who is he?" and another that said “Oh, good for you, man, what's his name?’” He says he deleted any posts that referenced his orientation and hoped that his scouting friends and BSA leadership hadn't seen the comments.
The first sign of trouble came when he called a friend to see about his application to work at BSA’s Camp Geronimo, located 90 miles northeast of Phoenix, where he had worked the previous summer. He said that instead of getting confirmation he was going to be employed again he was told he needed to speak with the camp's director.
On March 25th Bryant says that he was called by the Camp's Director and told that he wasn't not going to be offered the job- he was ineligible because of his personal choices. "I asked him what he meant by that and he said the homosexuality and then he [the director] referred to the Facebook posts."
Bryant, who has worked his way up through Scouting since he was a young boy achieving the rank of Eagle Scout says that being denied the job in an organization he loves is a crushing blow.
“Scouting is amazing- it teaches us to be leaders and it should be open to everyone. They [Scouting] should let everyone lead,” he said.
For Bryant it doesn't make a lot of sense. “The Boy Scouts of America will prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Law, “ he said quoting the BSA Vision statement.   “That's what I was prepared to do, with my life. Be a leader. I kept my sexual orientation private.”
He said that he considers his scouting friends and BSA leaders his 'other family' and noted that since the fact that he was outed, he's received tremendous support from them without a single negative remark. One friend, he noted, offered to resign from scouting.
“A policy of discrimination at any level results in the sort of fear we see at work in the Scouts’ ouster of Garrett. Garrett is an exemplary Scout who should be rehired immediately.” said Zach Wahls, Executive Director of Scouts for Equality, in a statement to LGBTQ Nation.
Bryant is preparing to move forward. His family has been extremely supportive, he noted that “I told my Mom last August in an elevator at her job that I was gay and she just said oh?” He added that he has two uncles who are gay and both are married. His mother and friends are helping him establish an Arizona chapter of Scouts For Equality and he said that;
[...] “it's time that the scouts join the rest of us in the 21st century. I'm not seeking to destroy scouting or seeking to change scouting in a negative way, I just want everyone to have an equal chance. 
I met all of the requirements to be a member of the Boy Scouts, I loved my job and everyone seemed to look forward to having me return this summer. The fact that a rumor spread on social media led to this is frustrating," he said.
For now, his immediate plans are to find another job to help pay his college expenses as he transfers to the University of Arizona in Tucson next fall from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff where he currently attends.
LGBTQ Nation reached out to BSA's national headquarters Tuesday and was told by a spokesperson that Bryant's situation is a private employment matter and that the organization would not offer a comment.

Monday, April 28, 2014

LDS Leadership's survey targets BYU's LGBT students

By Brody Levesque & David Badash | PROVO -- A confidential survey targeted at Brigham Young University students affiliated with an unofficial group of LGBT students, faculty and guests has received criticism for a series of missteps in asking a question about a respondent's s sexual orientation. 
The online survey, sent out at the direct behest of the the second-highest governing body in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, (LDS/Mormons) known as the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was created to screen students for a focus group designed to better understand Millennial’s attitudes about “same-sex attraction,”  a source within the church hierarchy told LGBTQ Nation Monday.  
The email requesting students’ participation in the survey was sent out last week by Michael Colemere, Managing Director, Communication Services for the LDS church, and according to the source, also noted that officials from Brigham Young University, which has a student population of about 34,000, and wholly owned and operated by the Mormon Church was unaware of.
The online survey asked basic questions, and requested respondents rate on a scale of 1-5 if they are “not intimidated by people [they are] unfamiliar with,” if they “enjoy participating in new situations,” are “open to new ideas and experiences,” are “comfortable expressing [their] opinion to others,” and if they “often set the trends in [their] social circle.” The survey also asks the students to rate their “stance on social and moral issues” on a 1-5 scale, from “Traditional / conservative” to “Progressive / liberal.”
The problem arose with the wording of Question Eight, which initially asked for a student's sexual orientation based on the premise that the student was heterosexual but had "same-sex attractions."
I am heterosexual, but I struggle with same-sex attraction.
I am heterosexual and do not struggle with same-sex attraction.
Other, please specify:
The New Civil Rights blog had published an article revealing the survey's existence Friday with the original wording but by Monday, the question had been changed three times, the final version according to an email from a church spokesperson; "reworded to better convey the intent of the question."
Do you experience same-sex attraction?
"The “other” option includes a space for a respondent to provide any context or explanation they wish, " wrote Eric Hawkins, LDS spokesperson.  
Hawkins also added that the survey "is part of the Church’s broader research to understand the attitudes and opinions of Millennials."

Friday, April 25, 2014


Georgia Approves Bill Against Sexual Discrimination in First Reading
TBILISI -- The Georgian parliament has passed in a measure that seeks to better protect those facing discrimination and harassment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The bill, which passed by 110 votes to 40 in a first reading, will also prohibit discrimination of individuals and legal entities on the grounds of race, gender, nationality, age, and on the basis of several other criteria, Georgian news agency reported Friday.
The bill was backed by the Georgian government along with parliamentarians representatives from the ruling Georgian Dream coalition, is one of conditions laid forth by the European Union for the initiation of a visa-free regime between the EU and Georgia. 
In a speech before the vote on the bill,  MP Nino Goguadze spoke about importance of the anti-discrimination law and about significance of protection of minority rights in general.
“Rule of law should be established in our country. It means that everyone should be equal before the law regardless of their social or economic status, religious beliefs or ethnic origin, sexual orientation or political views,” she said. 
“We, the lawmakers, should always remember that if it becomes possible in the state to violate rights of certain groups, rights of certain minorities, then in such a state it will become possible, admissible and inevitable violation of the rights of principle minority – that is single individual person, i.e. each of us… Rights of each and every single person and rights of majority are based on rights of minorities”
She added that “the best part of the Georgian traditions” is based on respect of rights and dignity of others.
It has been met with strong opposition including the mayoral candidate for the capital city of Tbilisi and opposition politician Dimitri Lortkipanidze who said the bill's adoption was equivalent to "legalizing an immoral act." 
A leading Orthodox priest David Isakadze called it "the legalization of sodomy."

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Today's Top Trending Stories from LGBTQ Nation Magazine

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Canadian Judge says law violates transgender rights

STAFF REPORTS | EDMONTON, Alberta -- A judge has ruled that a provincial law states that transgender persons must have reassignment surgery before they can change the sex on their birth certificates violates their rights is unconstitutional and can no longer enforced.
Alberta Justice Brian Burrows issued his opinion Wednesday, in the case of a 23-year-old transgender woman who filed the legal challenge to the law, a week after Alberta Premier Dave Hancock announced changes will be made to the Vital Statistics Act that the surgery requirement will be dropped.
“Transgendered persons encounter disadvantage, prejudice, stereotyping and vulnerability because their felt sex is not the sex recorded at birth,” he wrote in his decision.
He said the law, as it stands, contributes to the prejudice.
“When asked, at the presentation of this application, how it could possibly matter that a person born male, but who has transitioned and lives female, have a birth certificate that says they are female, counsel for Alberta could offer no answer.”
He then ordered the government to issue a new birth certificate to the woman within thirty days.
A spokeswoman with Service Alberta, Jessica Johnson, told The Canadian Press that said the Burrows’ ruling will be respected and the woman will receive a new birth certificate by the judge’s deadline.
When asked about the legislation removing the surgical requirement, Johnson said details of the new legislation are still being worked out.
Human rights complaints have been filed in at least four provinces — Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia — calling for changes to such laws.
In British Columbia, a bill was recently introduced that would remove the condition that a person must first have sex reassignment surgery. It would also allow children, with parental consent, to switch the sex listed on their birth certificates.
In 2012, Ontario’s human rights tribunal declared it discriminatory to require surgery for a transgender woman who wanted to switch to female from male on her birth certificate. The province revised its legislation to allow a change with a note from a doctor or psychologist, but set an age limit of at least 18.