Monday, December 6, 2010

Video: Prop 8 Oral Arguments

Follow this link to find both parts of Prop 8 oral arguments held earlier today at the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco, California. Part 1 deals with standing and part 2 deals with the constitutionality of the issue.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December 1st: World AIDS Day

"On World AIDS Day, we take time to remember those who have been lost to this devastating disease, and recommit ourselves to saving as many lives as we can, now and in the future. This December 1, World AIDS Day is also an opportunity to reflect on what we have achieved. We have saved millions of lives from AIDS over the past decade. By investing in what we know works, we can save millions more in the future." - Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, December 1, 2010.
Learn more about World AIDS Day 2010.

Learn about the history of World AIDS Day.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Robert M. Cover Public Interest Retreat 2011: Registration OPEN

Registration is now open for the 24th annual Robert M. Cover Public Interest Retreat. Click here to register.
"Every year, public interest law students, professors, and practitioners from the Eastern, Mid-Eastern, and Southern United States gather together at the Robert M. Cover Public Interest Law Retreat to network, strategize, and socialize in a beautiful, secluded setting.  
The retreat brings to life the vision of Robert Cover, a Yale Law School professor and social change activist. Cover’s vision encompassed four principal goals: 1) to connect students with common goals and interests from across the country; 2) to create a network of professors, peers, and practitioners for students headed toward careers in public interest; 3) to provide a forum for discussions about change and growth pertaining to public interest law; and 4) to provide a platform for change in the public interest sector and perceptions about public interest law."

Monday, November 22, 2010

OUTlaw/Gender & Sexuality Studies general interest meeting

OUTlaw will be having our last meeting of the fall semester on Tuesday November 30th at noon in room 2.  This meeting will also be a general interest meeting for those who would like to learn more about WNEC Law's new Gender & Sexuality Studies concentration. Professors Shay and Levi will be at the meeting to tell us more about the concentration.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

WNEC Law Announces New Concentration: Gender & Sexuality Studies

WNEC OUTlaw is excited to share with our readers that on Friday November 12, 2010 the proposed Gender & Sexuality Studies concentration was passed by the WNEC Law faculty with a unanimous vote. Professors Taylor Flynn and Jennifer Levi will be the co-advisors of the new concentration. Any interested students can attend a general interest meeting about the new concentration hosted by OUTlaw. The date and time are to be determined. Please check back for additional information.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010

Facebook Frenzy: "My Son is Gay"

This article has been popping up on Facebook news feeds for a few days now. It's written by a mom whose son wants to dress up as Daphne from Scooby Doo for Halloween and what she experienced at the hands of other moms after allowing him to do so. Read it here.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

3 Judges dismissed by Iowa voters over same-sex marriage ruling

Judges in Iowa are kept on for additional terms through the election process. Last night, three judges were dismissed based on their fair and impartial ruling in the case that legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa (Varnum v. Brien 763 N.W.2d 862). Generally, the judges are kept on for additional terms without any news buzz at all, but this year the process became unusually politicized. Outside organizations like the National Organization for Marriage played a large role in politicizing what should be the neutral role of the judiciary. Read the New York Times article for a closer look at what happened in Iowa.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Purple Day, Movie Night

Remember to wear purple on Wednesday October 20th in memory of the LGBTQ lives lost to suicide. If you have anything purple, please see Erika Scibelli to get your piece of the purple.

Please also join OUTlaw for pizza and a movie at 5pm in Room 2 to conclude our day of remembrance.

Logic Gayms

Take a look at WNEC OUTlaw member Armand Cortellesso's blog post memorializing Matthew Shepard's passing. It's absolutely worth the read.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

CA Federal Judge tells government to stop enforcing DADT

From MSNBC.com
"RIVERSIDE, Calif. — A federal judge Tuesday ordered the government to stop banning openly gay men and women from serving in the military under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips found the policy unconstitutional in September. On Tuesday, she rejected an Obama administration request to delay an injunction and ordered enforcement of the 17-year-old policy permanently stopped.
The Justice Department has 60 days to appeal. Legal experts say the government is under no legal obligation to do so and they could let Phillips' ruling stand.
The federal government is reviewing the ruling and has no immediate comment, said Tracy Schmaler, spokesman for the Justice Department.
"Don't ask, don't tell" prohibits the military from asking about the sexual orientation of service members but bans those who are gay from serving openly. Under the 1993 policy, service men and women who acknowledge being gay or are discovered engaging in homosexual activity, even in the privacy of their own homes off base, are subject to discharge.
Phillips declared the law unconstitutional on Sept. 9 after a two-week nonjury trial and said she would issue a nationwide injunction. But she asked first for input from Department of Justice attorneys and the Log Cabin Republicans, the gay rights group that filed the lawsuit in 2004 to stop the ban's enforcement.
The Log Cabin Republicans asked her for an immediate injunction so the policy can no longer be used against any U.S. military personnel anywhere in the world.
"The order represents a complete and total victory for the Log Cabin Republicans and reaffirms the constitutional rights of gays and lesbians in the miltiary for fighting and dying for our country," said Dan Woods, an attorney for the Log Cabin group.
Government attorneys objected, saying such an abrupt change might harm military operations in a time of war. They had asked Phillips to limit her ruling to the members of the Log Cabin Republicans, a 19,000-member group that includes current and former military service members.
The Department of Justice attorneys also said Congress should decide the issue — not her court.
Phillips disagreed, saying the law doesn't help military readiness and instead has a "direct and deleterious effect" on the armed services by hurting recruiting during wartime and requiring the discharge of service members with critical skills and training.
She said the law violates the free-speech and due process rights of service members after listening to the testimonies of military officers who have been discharged under the policy.
Legal experts say the Obama administration could choose to not appeal her ruling to end the ban — but Department of Justice attorneys are not likely to stay mum since Obama has made it clear he wants Congress to repeal the policy.
"The president has taken a very consistent position here, and that is: 'Look, I will not use my discretion in any way that will step on Congress' ability to be the sole decider about this policy here,' " said Diane H. Mazur, legal co-director of the Palm Center, a think tank at the University of California at Santa Barbara that supports a repeal.
Gay rights advocates say they worry they lost a crucial opportunity to change the law when Senate Republicans opposed the defense bill earlier this month because of a "don't ask, don't tell" repeal provision.
If Democrats lose seats in the upcoming elections, repealing the ban could prove even more difficult — if not impossible — next year.
Woods said the administration should be seizing the opportunity to let a judge do what politics has been unable to do.
The Associated Press and NBC News contributed to this story. "

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Trevor Project: National Moment of Silence TONIGHT

Please participate in a National Moment of Silence for the LGBTQ youths we've lost this week to suicide.

Moment of Silence- 8p.m

Ellen Degeneres speaks out about LGBT teen suicides

Ellen speaks out about the heartbreaking suicides that have come to the attention of the entire nation.

Please come to the meeting on Wednesday at noon with any ideas about how OUTlaw can respond to this issue and offer our help.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

OUTlaw Meeting: 10.6.10

The next OUTlaw meeting will be on Wednesday, October 6 at noon in room 1. Please feel free to bring your ideas and lunch! See you there.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Thank you!

OUTlaw would like to thank those of you who attended the debate last Wednesday. A special thanks goes out to Professors Flynn and Harpaz as well as Ms. Gallagher for taking the time to participate in this event. We had a great turnout and we are truly grateful for the support.

We'll be posting footage of the debate a.s.a.p. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Debate TODAY: Same-Sex Marriage and Proposition 8

flyyn_t.jpg
Professor Taylor Flynn

On Wednesday, September 22 at Noon in the Law School Commons, OUTlaw, the Family Law Association, and the Federalist Society are co-sponsoring a debate about same-sex marriage and Proposition 8. Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage will be debating WNEC Law's own Professor Taylor Flynn. WNEC Law Professor Leora Harpaz will be the moderator.

Please join us for this exciting event (And lunch too!)


Maggie Gallagher


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Western Mass AIDS Foundation's Walk/Run

Team up with WNEC Law's running club to support the Western Mass AIDS Foundation!
On Saturday, September 11, WNEC Law's running club will participate in the Western Mass AIDS Foundation walk and 5k run in Forest Park here in Springfield. Professor Buzuvis has invited OUTlaw to join the running club to raise money for this great cause. You can learn more about the walk/run and register to join the team here. Registration is free, but each team member is encouraged to donate or raise a minimum of $25.

Friday, August 27, 2010

WNEC OUTlaw member selected as Intern for Trans Bodies, Trans Selves.

A WNEC OUTlaw member, was selected as the student intern for the upcoming book Trans Bodies, Trans Selves. Christian will be working on transgender legal issues for the book alongside two renowned trans attorneys, Kylar Broadus and Shannon Minter.
"Trans Bodies, Trans Selves is a resource guide for transgender and other gender-variant people, covering health, legal issues, cultural and social questions, history, theory, and more. It is a place for transgender people, their partners and families, students, professors, guidance counselors, and others to look for up-to-date information on transgender life."
Congratulations to Christian from all of us at OUTLaw and best of luck to him as he takes on this exciting project!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Congratulations!

Congratulations are due to OUTlaw's 2010-2011 E-Board and Officers! Come celebrate a promising year for OUTlaw at ONYX at 9p.m on Saturday for our Welcome Back Cocktail Party.

President: Cecelia Berman, 3L
Vice President: Erika Scibelli, 2L
Secretary: Maria Korotchenko, 2L
Treasurer: Jessica Bobb, 2L
3L Rep: Mariel Martin
2L Rep: Allison Saxer
1L Rep: Shiona Heru
SBA Liaison: Amber Gould, 1L

Friday, August 20, 2010

Welcome Back Cocktail Party at ONYX

OUTlaw is set to host a Welcome Back cocktail party at ONYX by the Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday, August 28th at 9 p.m.  There will be live music at the beginning of the night on the patio with a DJ taking over later. (Weather permitting, otherwise, music will move inside.) There will be beer and martini specials as well as reserved patio seating for WNEC Law students. The dinner menu at Onyx is available until 10 and the lounge/bar menu is available until 11.

Please email Erika Scibelli at outlaw.wnec@gmail.com with any questions.

A big thanks to Onyx for accommodating our event. We can't wait to see you all there and celebrate the start of the new school year.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

9th Circuit extends Judge Walker's stay on CA same-sex marriages

  • Check out this blogger article from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

  • NPR had a brief, but interesting perspective on the radio this morning from Erwin Chemerinsky, Professor of Law at the University of California at Irvine. (Students may recognize his name if you carried around the giant and very helpful Constitutional Law supplement that he authored.) Professor Chemerinsky stated in his sound bite that the 9th circuit most likely made the decision to extend the expiration date of the stay so that the matter would not go to the Supreme Court.

  • Professor Chemerinsky also wrote a very interesting article earlier this week for the LA Times about the appeal process of the Prop 8 decision. He writes that the Supreme Court could find that opponents of same-sex marriage have no legal standing to appeal the decision made by Judge Walker. Read the whole article here.

Monday, August 16, 2010

First OUTlaw meeting and elections

OUTlaw will hold its first meeting of 2010-2011 on Tuesday August 24th at noon in Room 2. We will be holding elections as well as discussing upcoming events for the new academic year. All are welcome and encouraged to attend. We look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

BREAKING: PROP 8 OVERTURNED!

Howard Mintz of San Jose Mercury news reported throughout the Prop 8 trial. Now he brings us the news that Judge Vaughn Walker has overturned California's ban on same-sex marriage, finding it unconstitutional.
Read the full article here.

Prop 8 decision to come today

The decision in the Prop 8 case should be handed down by Judge Vaughn Walker at some point today. Check back for further developments.

Text EQUAL to 69866 to receive a text message with the decision as soon as it happens.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

OUTlaw back up on TWEN

If you haven't added OUTlaw as a "course" on TWEN, it's now available for you to do so. By adding OUTlaw, you'll have access to the event calendar, meeting minutes, bylaws, OUTlines and more.

Monday, July 26, 2010

WNEC Law's Non-Discrimination Policy

WNEC Law was one of the first law schools in the nation to adopt a non-discrimination policy that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

Here's WNEC's policy:

"Western New England College is committed to the principle of equal opportunity in education and employment. The College does not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, color, creed, national origin, age, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, veteran status, or disability in admission to, access to, treatment in, or employment in its programs and activities."

Also, if you haven't been to WNEC Law's LGBT Life page, you can check it out here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mississippi school to pay damages to Constance McMillen

Constance McMillen, a Mississippi teen who was not allowed to bring her girlfriend to the prom, came to an agreement today with the school. Read the whole article from CNN here.

Monday, July 19, 2010

President of Ireland signs Civil Partnership Bill

Below is a press release from GLEN (Gay & Lesbian Equality Network):
President Signs Civil Partnership Bill into Law:
A great day for Ireland.
Today the 19th of July, the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, signed the Civil Partnership Bill into law.
“This is a great day for Ireland. Lesbian and gay people, their parents, families, friends neighbours, colleagues can now look forward to celebrating their civil partnerships in the near future” according to Kieran rose.
“It is a tribute to the openness and welcoming nature of Irish society and the commitment of all our legislators and is a major civil rights milestone for lesbian and gay people” continued Kieran Rose.
The Bill will deliver a comprehensive set of protections, rights and obligations for same-sex couples across a wide range of areas including home protections, pensions, taxation, maintenance, next of kin, social welfare, domestic violence, inheritance, enduring power of attorney and creation of joint tenancies.
The Bill was passed without a vote in the Dáil and with an overwhelming majority in the Seanad at the beginning of July.
For Further Information, contact:
Eoin Collins,: +353 87 9273341 or
Brian Sheehan, +353 86 2330417
W: www.glen.ie info@glen.ie

Argentina legalizes same sex marriage

On Thursday, July 15, Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage. Below is an excerpt from a longer AP article that can be found here.
"BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Argentina became the first Latin American nation to legalize gay marriage Thursday, granting same-sex couples all the legal rights, responsibilities and protections that marriage brings to heterosexuals.
The law's passage — a priority for President Cristina Fernandez's government — has inspired activists to push for similar laws in other countries, and a wave of gay weddings are expected in Buenos Aires. Some gay business leaders are predicting an economic ripple effect from an increase in tourism among gays and lesbians who will see Argentina as an even more attractive destination."

DOMA Decision and D.C

  • For those of you interested in reading the DOMA decision before jumping back into your casebooks, you can read it here at the GLAD website. GLAD has also posted an article about the plaintiffs' reactions.
  • On Friday, the Washington D.C Court of Appeals struck down an initiative to put same-sex marriage on the ballot for popular vote. Below is a brief article from the AP:
WASHINGTON — D.C.'s highest court has ruled against opponents of the city's same-sex marriage law, saying they cannot ask voters to overturn it.
Opponents had wanted to challenge a law that took effect in Washington in March allowing same-sex couples to marry. They attempted to get approval to put an initiative on the ballot asking city voters to define marriage in the city as between one man and one woman. But city officials balked, saying a district human rights law barred initiatives that would authorize discrimination.
On Thursday, the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled 5-4 that officials had the authority to keep the measure off the ballot and acted appropriately.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

BREAKING: U.S District Court holds DOMA "violates principles of equal protection."

GLAD just Tweeted that the U.S District Court has held that DOMA "violates... principles of equal protection". The decision hasn't been posted yet, but check glad.org for developing details. In the meantime, you can read up on the history of the case and learn more about the plaintiffs involved.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Gov. Linda Lingle (R) of Hawaii vetoes civil union bill

From the NY Daily News

"Hawaii is supposed to be paradise. But maybe not for everyone.
Republican Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed a controversial civil unions bill on Tuesday that would have granted gay, lesbian and opposite-sex couples the same rights and benefits as married couples.
The legislation, which was approved by the Legislature in April, would have made Hawaii one of six states – in addition to California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington – to give the rights of marriage to same-sex couples without sanctioning marriage itself.
Lingle argued that voters, not politicians, should decide on the future of same-sex civil unions.
"The subject of this legislation has touched the hearts and minds of our citizens as no other social issue of our day," she said. "It would be a mistake to allow a decision of this magnitude to be made by one individual or a small group of elected officials."
The American Civil Liberties Union and other pro-civil unions groups said they will file a lawsuit in state court within the next month.
"We are standing ready to file that lawsuit in short order to ensure that LGBT families in Hawaii are provided equal rights and benefits," Lois Perrin, legal director of ACLU Hawaii told KITV4 News in Honolulu. "To be sure, the Hawaii Constitution already provides that and we're going to make sure that the courts agree with us."
Perrin said the lawsuit could take months and perhaps even years to work its way through he legal system.
Shortly after Lingle's announcement, many opponents of the civil unions bill applauded, dropped to their knees, cried and prayed.
"What she did was very just, and I'm very happy about it," said Jay Amina, 50, of Waianae. "It sends a good message throughout the state of Hawaii — that our people here on the islands are standing for traditional marriage."
Supporters of the civil unions were outraged, shouting "We'll keep fighting!" and sang "We Shall Overcome."
"We had hoped the governor would do the right thing for civil rights and equality," Lee Yarbrough of Honolulu said while standing with his partner. "This battle is far from over." "

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Congratulations to incoming 1Ls!

Congratulations to all the 1Ls who will be attending WNEC Law beginning in August! WNEC is a tight-knit community and those of us at OUTlaw are looking forward to meeting you. Please feel free to email us with any questions, concerns, or comments at outlaw.wnec@gmail.com. We will be sure to keep you updated as we start planning events for the upcoming academic year.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Iceland legalizes same-sex marriage; Prime Minister weds

From the Associated Press:
"REYKJAVIK, Iceland — Iceland's prime minister has married her partner under a new law legalizing same-sex marriage in the country.

One of her advisers, Hrannar B. Arnarsson, said Monday Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir and writer Jonina Leosdottir were officially married Sunday, the day the law came into force.

The pair has been in a registered partnership since 2002 and had applied to have it converted into a marriage under the new law. No ceremony was held.

The law was passed without a dissenting vote in Iceland's parliament June 11.

Social Democrat Sigurdardottir, 68, became Iceland's prime minister last year, after the previous center-right government was ousted by a wave of protest triggered by the country's economic crisis."

Pride: Why we celebrate

As the Pride season draws to a close, let's take a moment to remember why we celebrate.
Stonewall: 1969

Thursday, June 24, 2010

2010-2011 Academic Year

Course schedules have been posted for the 2010-2011 academic year. Registration starts July 7th at noon on ASAP.
Fall 2010
Spring 2011

Reuters: U.S. court won't keep secret gay marriage opponents

Reuters reports:
"The high court's 8-1 ruling was a defeat for a group called Protect Marriage Washington. It had argued that public disclosure could lead to threats, harassment or reprisal.
More than 138,000 individuals signed a petition in 2009 to put a referendum on the state ballot that would have overturned a new state law extending the benefits of marriage to couples registered as domestic partners. The referendum failed.
Some supporters of gay rights had vowed to put the names of those who signed the petition on the Internet.
Lawyers for the group argued that the signers' constitutional right to political free-speech under the First Amendment trumped the state's public records law.
A federal judge initially agreed with the group that disclosure of the names and addresses violated constitutional protections of anonymous political speech.
But a U.S. appeals court ruled the names could be made public and said the signatures had been gathered in public with no promise of confidentiality.
In the majority opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Supreme Court ruled that disclosure of referendum petitions generally does not violate any free-speech rights.
Only Justice Clarence Thomas dissented.
The Supreme Court case is Doe v. Reed, 09-559."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Closing Arguments: Prop. 8 Trial in San Francisco

Howard Mintz maintained a live blog throughout the Prop. 8 trial and is now doing the same for closing arguments. Check this link throughout the day for updates.

Friday, May 7, 2010

DOMA challenge heard in Federal District Court in Boston yesterday

This note was posted on GLAD's Facebook page today:

An Argument for Equality: Recapping DOMA Hearing Day
Today at 4:04pm
It was sunny and warm as we headed to the Joseph Moakley Federal Courthouse on Boston’s waterfront. Eight married couples, three widowers, and as many attorneys marched into the courtroom of Federal District Judge Joseph L. Tauro. The plaintiffs – all harmed by DOMA in various ways – sat in the jury box, and in an overflow courtroom next door, spectators could see them on two large flat-screen TVs.
In the main courtroom, we squished together on the benches. There was a lot of buzz as reporters and spectators waited for Judge Tauro’s entrance at 10:30. The 78-year-old jurist (whose father had been the chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court) entered with his robes open at the front. He greeted us with a bright “good morning” and chided the audience for its meek response, which got a laugh.
But we were soon down to serious business. Mary Bonauto, GLAD’s Civil Rights Project Director and the woman who argued and won the historic Goodridge case, was on her feet.
“This is a classic equal protection issue. The Constitution applies to gay and lesbian citizens, and married ones, too,” Mary told the Court. “What governmental purpose does the US have as an employer in treating some of its married employees, retirees and surviving annuitants differently from other married persons, such that Nancy Gill pays for a self and family plan like some of her married colleagues, but the plan doesn’t cover her own spouse?”
Mary presented a three-pronged legal argument: 1) by singling out only the marriages of same-sex couples, DOMA violates the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution; 2) DOMA represents an unprecedented intrusion of the federal government into marriage law, which for 230 years has been legislated by states; and 3) by denying federal protections to families, DOMA burdens the marriages of same-sex couples and their right to maintain family integrity.
Judge Tauro was attentive, thoughtful, and fully engaged. He questioned Mary about rational basis vs. heightened scrutiny, but never caught her unprepared.
Then it was the federal government’s turn. W. Scott Simpson of the Department of Justice started and ended his argument by emphasizing the Obama administration’s opposition to DOMA, but said their policy position “does not affect the statutes’ constitutionality.” A fire alarm briefly interrupted his argument. On the return of everyone to the courtroom, Mr. Simpson said that “individual states may experiment in the area of marriage” and that DOMA does not stop them from doing that. No one in the room envied him having to make what seemed a fairly strained argument.
We don’t know when to expect a decision, and with our terrible office record of prognostication, I wouldn’t even guess. But we all left the courthouse feeling pretty good, pretty strong, and pretty hopeful. Visit our website for a round up of news coverage, and stay tuned to www.glad.org/doma for more news.
Plaintiffs Marcelle Letourneau and Nancy Gill with Mary Bonauto at the press conference.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Last meeting and Finals!!!

Elections have been postponed as we would like to have the input of next year's 1Ls. OUTlaw will be busy over the summer and we look forward to a productive fall. If you have any questions, comments, or ideas, please feel free to email Erika Scibelli at outlaw.wnec@gmail.com.

That being said, it's just a few days until finals here at WNEC Law! You can expect more posts after finals are over :) Best of luck to everyone!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

OUTlaw Elections & Year-End Meeting: Wednesday April 28th

OUTlaw's final meeting of the year will be on Wednesday April 28th at 12:20 in Room 1. We will be discussing a plan for next year as well as the possibility of summer projects.

Elections for the 2010-2011 academic year will also be held at this meeting. If you are interested in running for a position, please join the group on TWEN (if you haven't already) and e-mail the group before Wednesday's meeting to announce your candidacy. The positions are President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, SBA Representative, and 2L/3L Representatives. If you want to run for a position please be sure to attend the meeting in addition to sending out an e-mail. If you can attend to vote, please do!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Day of Silence Speaks Volumes

Today is the Day of Silence. It is a day intended to raise awareness about the silencing effect that bullying and harassment have on the LGBTQ community. As students at WNEC Law, we are grateful for an accepting and friendly community, but we remember that there are countless LGBTQ people from all regions of the world who live in silence and in fear. Today, we remain silent for them to encourage awareness, acceptance, and peace. We hope that our silence will speak volumes.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Federal Court rules that trans inmates cannot be denied hormone therapy

WNEC Law alumnus Dru Levasseur is quoted in The Advocate's article by Michelle Garcia:
"A federal court ruled on Wednesday that transgender prisoners serving time must be allowed to continue hormone treatments in Wisconsin prisons.
The Wisconsin legislature passed a law, effective January 2006, which barred prison doctors from administering or prescribing hormone treatment or gender reassignment surgery for transgender people while in state custody.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin's ruling on Wednesday would not grant all inmates access to hormones or surgery, but now doctors can decide whether transgender inmates can receive care, as opposed to a blanket law.
The American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal filed a challenge to the law on behalf of transgender prisoners, shortly after it went into effect. Dru Levasseur, Lambda Legal's Transgender Rights Attorney, hailed the decision.
"The court understood that medical treatment is critical for transgender people and that medical decisions should be made by doctors—not legislators," Levasseur said in a press release. "The state cannot decide to withhold treatment from people because they disapprove of their gender identity or medical needs—it’s unconstitutional." "

Friday, April 9, 2010

Day of Silence: April 16th

Recently, some members of OUTlaw participated in a photo shoot for WNEC's Day of Silence. The photo shoot was organized by members of WNEC's undergrad GSA and all photography was done by Ben Lussier Photography. Please join the event on Facebook to view all of the photos! You can find it by searching "WNEC Day of Silence (Hosted By Gay/Straight Alliance)".

Here is a quote from the GSA's page:
"WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO TO END THE SILENCE?
The Day of Silence was founded in 1996 at the University of Virginia. In 1997, the Day of Silence became a national movement and had over a hundred schools participating. GLSEN ( Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education network) adopted the Day of Silence in 2001 and became the official sponsor. Currently over 8,000 schools participate.The Day of Silence is one of the largest, student organized, non-violent protests. The purpose of the Day of Silence is to bring attention to anti-GLBTQ (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning) name calling, bullying, and harassment. Participants spend the day being silent to symbolize the silencing felt by GLBTQ students and their allies.
Last year, WNEC had over 100 participants and this year we hope to double our numbers. This year the Day of Silence is April 16th. Those who sign up can chose to be silent to the best of their ability for the day, or simply just to show support. Supporting the cause can be as simple as being respectful of those wearing the Day of Silence shirts who are choosing to be silent."

All photos by Ben Lussier Photography.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

GLAD's DOMA challenge in Federal District Court in Boston on May 6th

Big news from GLAD!!!
"On Thursday, May 6, 2010, the Federal District Court in Boston will hear oral arguments on the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), in the case of Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, brought by GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders) in March 2009."
Continue to GLAD's full article here.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Reminder: Final Clason speaker of the year!

Western New England College School of Law presents the final speaker in the Clason Speaker Series:

On Thursday April 8, 2010 at noon in the Law School Commons, Rutgers-Camden Associate Professor of Law Kimberly Mutcherson will deliver a talk entitled “Feel Like Makin’ Babies: Mapping the Borders of the Right to Procreate in a Post-Coital World.” Professor Mutcherson’s talk will address how to protect procreative rights that are not connected to sexual intercourse, such as in situations involving reproductive technologies. Professor Muterchson is an expert in family and health law, and she has served as a staff attorney at the HIV Law Project in New York. She currently serves on the Board of the Women’s Law Project in Philadelphia.


Thanks to Professor Shay for this info!

"Being gay isn't a choice, but being a bigot certainly is."

A friend of OUTlaw sent us this article by LZ Granderson. It is a quick and insightful read about how the myth of the gay "lifestyle" (we hate that word, for the record...) perpetuates the injustices that the LGBTQ community face on a daily basis. Please take a couple of minutes to check it out.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Update: Constance McMillen

After a judge ruled that the school district could not keep Constance McMillen and her girlfriend from attending their high school prom, parents from the small Mississippi town decided to organize a separate prom. Constance and her girlfriend were not invited to the private party and were told that the school's prom would be at a country club. That evening, Constance and her girlfriend showed up at the school sponsored event to find less than a dozen students there. Meanwhile, all other students attended the private party hosted by the parents.

Read the full article from The Advocate here.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Final Clason Speaker of the year: Professor Kimberly Mutcherson

Western New England College School of Law presents the final speaker in the Clason Speaker Series:

On Thursday April 8, 2010 at noon in the Law School Commons, Rutgers-Camden Associate Professor of Law Kimberly Mutcherson will deliver a talk entitled “Feel Like Makin’ Babies: Mapping the Borders of the Right to Procreate in a Post-Coital World.” Professor Mutcherson’s talk will address how to protect procreative rights that are not connected to sexual intercourse, such as in situations involving reproductive technologies. Professor Muterchson is an expert in family and health law, and she has served as a staff attorney at the HIV Law Project in New York. She currently serves on the Board of the Women’s Law Project in Philadelphia.


Thanks to Professor Shay for this info!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Mullen & Gates condemn open letter regarding DADT

Michelle Garcia of The Advocate reports:
"A three-star general's opposition to repealing the military's ban on openly gay and lesbian troops may put his career in jeopardy.
Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, in an open letter to Stars and Stripes newspaper on March 8, wrote that it was highly unlikely that a majority of service members are in favor of repealing "don't ask, don't tell."
"I suspect many service members, their families, veterans and citizens are wondering what to do to stop this ill-advised repeal of a policy that has achieved a balance between a citizen's desire to serve and acceptable conduct," he wrote on March 8.
Mixon is the commander of the U.S. Army Pacific.
Defense secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Michael Mullen said Thursday that Mixon's letter was "inappropriate" because of his influence on other military personnel, according to MSNBC.com.
Mullen said the Army has issued specific guidelines on speaking about "don't ask, don't tell" while the Defense Department is reviewing repeal of the policy. Mixon's case is "being addressed," he said.
An Army official told MSNBC that the directive to high-ranking military personnel was not pertaining to public statements on the ban and that the Army is likely not to fire Mixon. However, he may be forced to resign.
His three-star status (which he attained in February 2008) may also be under consideration for demotion to two stars by Congress.

The Army is expected to release a statement distancing itself from Mixon's letter."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lt.Dan Choi arrested for peacefully protesting DADT

On its website, the newly formed GetEQUAL has posted a video of Lt. Dan Choi's statement outside of the White House. View the video here on YouTube or watch it on GetEQUAL's website.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lambda Legal brings same-sex marriage back to court in New Jersey

N.J. gay-marriage battle back in court
A sampling of posts from the last week:
Advocates for same-sex marriage are taking their case back to the New Jersey Supreme Court.
Lambda Legal filed a motion Thursday seeking a court ruling to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.
"We are here today to ask the New Jersey Supreme Court to make equality real," said Hayley Gorenberg, Lambda Legal's deputy legal director. The civil-rights group filed a motion on behalf of six same-sex couples who first brought a lawsuit in 2002 seeking the right to marry.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that same-sex couples are entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples. The decision, however, left it up to the Legislature to decide how to provide equal rights. Lawmakers chose civil unions, but gay and lesbian advocates argue that civil unions provide unequal benefits, are misunderstood, especially out of the state, and amount to a separate and unequal right.
-Jonathan Tamari



The Advocate: What Health Care Means for LGBT Americans

Ryan McLendon writes for The Advocate about what LGBTQ Americans can expect from the recently passed health care bill. Access the article here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

PA Senators vote against bill proposing a same-sex marriage ban

Neal Broverman of the Advocate reports:
"Pennsylvania legislators on Tuesday voted against advancing a bill that could have constitutionally banned same-sex marriage.
The state's senate judiciary committee tabled senate bill 707 by an 8-6 bipartisan vote. The bill, sponsored by antigay Republican senator John Eichelberger, could be brought up again, but it's unlikely the bill will be considered before the end of the 2010 legislative session, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.
“The efforts to embed discrimination against LGBT people into our constitution have failed for a third time,” Andy Hoover, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said in a press release, referring to failed attempts to pass similar legislation in 2006 and 2008. “This committee today recognized that LGBT people are our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends, and our family members and that they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”
Committee members who voted to table the bill included Republicans Pat Browne, Jane Earll, and Mary Jo White and Democrats Daylin Leach, Lisa Boscola, Wayne Fontana, Michael Stack, and Jay Costa."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Updated: Mississippi teen files suit for violation of free speech rights

 Constance McMillen has filed suit against the Itawamba County school district alleging a violation of her freedom of speech. McMillen, an open lesbian, requested permission to bring her girlfriend to the high school's prom as well as permission to wear a tux. Her requests were denied and on Wednesday, the ACLU informed the school district that denying McMillen entrance to the prom would violate her rights. The school district decided that it was better to cancel the entire prom for all students then to abide by the constitution.

McMillen says she's felt animosity from her fellow classmates over the ordeal, but that she returned to school today because she knows that her struggle will benefit others in the long run. [ABC News]

UPDATE: Mississippi Safe School Coalition is holding a "Second Chance Prom" for LGBTQ students and allies. Read more about it on MSSC's page.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Thanks again to 16 Acres Garden Center!

OUTlaw wanted to send another big thank you to 16 Acres Garden Center for donating carnations to our fundraiser for Haiti. 16 Acres increased its donation to about 50 carnations after OUTlaw received requests for flowers that exceeded the initial donation amount. Thanks again to the great people at 16 Acres for making the fundraiser a success! It would not have been possible without them!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

CA State Senator Roy Ashburn (R) comes out to local radio station

David Begnaud of CBS13 in Sacramento, CA reports that Republican state Senator Roy Ashburn admitted that he is gay on a local radio talk show this morning. The revelation comes after Senator Ashburn was arrested for an alleged DUI last week. It was rumored that he had been pulled over after leaving a gay nightclub in Sacramento. Interestingly, it has also been noted that the senator has voted against every pro-LGBTQ measure that has come before him.
" "Well, I am gay," said Senator Ashburn on KERN Radio to conservative talk show host Inga Barks. "Those are the words that have been so difficult for me for so long. But I am gay."
The 55-year-old father of four said he crossed the line and broke the law, putting people at risk, so he owes the public an explanation.
"The best way to handle that is to be truthful and to say to my constituents and all who care that I am gay," he said. "But I don't think it's something that has affected, nor will it affect, how I do my job."
Ashburn has been on leave since his arrest last Wednesday morning. But according to sources at the capitol, Ashburn was picked up at his home this morning by the Senate's Sergeant at Arms. He [was] expected to be back at the capitol when the Senate conven[ed] today at 2:00pm."
Read the full text of the article here.

First same-sex marriages in Washington D.C today

Though the law went into effect last week, today was the first day that same-sex couples could marry in our nation's capital. Below are a couple of articles related to the day's events.

OUTlaw congratulates all the newlyweds!

Time article

CNN article

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Study: LGBTQ people in anti-LGBTQ states are prone to depression

The Advocate's Michelle Garcia reported:

The American Journal of Public Health published a study this month that finds that LGBTQ people living in states that have bans on same-sex marriage and other such anti-LGBTQ laws are prone to depression. More specifically, the study concludes that LGBTQ people living in those states are more vulnerable to general anxiety, alcoholism, and mood disorders. The study has also pointed out that the anti-LGBTQ laws do not affect heterosexual people in the same way as they affect LGBTQ people. Read the full text of the article here at the American Journal of Public Health's website.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Wanted: Genius Ideas!

OUTlaw seeks to maintain a friendly, welcoming, and accepting community for all students at Western New England College School of Law. We'd like for you to be involved and share your ideas with us. Below are a few questions for you to answer that will help us stay on track and accomplish our goals.

-- We want you to be involved and to get to know OUTlaw better. Do you know what OUTlaw all about? If not, how can we fix that? Are the meetings sufficiently advertised? If not, how can we more effectively get the word out about our meetings?

-- OUTlaw is a focused, determined, and fun-loving group. Is there a social event or speaking event that you would like to see OUTlaw organize?

-- Contributing to the community outside of WNEC Law is also important to OUTlaw. Are there any LGBTQ related organizations in the area that you know of that could use some help from OUTlaw?

-- OUTlaw hopes to offer a modest scholarship to an incoming student in the fall. Do you have a brilliant idea as to how we could raise the funds?

Thank you-- Your input is appreciated! Please share your thoughts via comment or contact OUTlaw at outlaw.wnec@gmail.com.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Supreme Court refuses to stay D.C same-sex marriage law

Earlier today the Associated Press reported that court papers were filed by marriage equality opponents. The filings asked the Supreme Court to put a hold on D.C's new law that would allow same-sex couples to marry. The new law would take effect tomorrow. Opponents of the law argue that the people of D.C should have the opportunity to vote on the matter.

Moments ago, Reuters reported that Chief Justice Roberts rejected the request of marriage equality opponents to place a hold on the law. You can read more about the decision here.

Reminder: Attorney Helen Trainor to speak at WNEC Law tomorrow.

Tomorrow, March 3rd at 4:00 pm in Room C, civil rights attorney Helen Trainor will speak about her role in helping to close the so-called "butch wing" at Fluvanna Correctional Center, a prison designated for women in Virginia. For more than a year, prisoners who were gay or perceived to be gay were housed in a separate unit called the "butch wing" and taunted by guards. After the story was reported by the Associated Press, in part thanks to Helen's efforts, the practice was discontinued.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Robert M. Cover Public Interest Retreat 2010: Turning Point

This weekend WNEC Law organized the 23rd annual Robert M. Cover Public Interest Law Retreat at Camp Sargent in New Hampshire. WNEC organizers Imran Siddiqui, Maren Law, and Erin Wilson worked extremely hard to put this all together. This year's retreat was dubbed "Turning Point" and it was a truly incredible experience. Students and practitioners came from all over to participate: North Carolina, California, Hawaii, New York, Connecticut, Georgia... the list goes on. WNEC sent around 20 students, several from OUTlaw and we were all buzzing with energy.

The trek to Camp Sargent on Friday was long and treacherous for some. As snow quickly blanketed the area, drivers were faced with zero visibility and unplowed roads. There were flights delayed, flights cancelled, and several cars that became stuck in the snow en route. Most people, however, were able to fight through the weather to get to the retreat with perseverance and a lot of patience (and some help from tow trucks and muscle power). Those who could not make it were sorely missed.

The weekend was a great balance of workshops and plenty of time for networking and socializing. Four to five workshop topics were available per session and offered a range of subjects from Guantanamo to Disability Rights, Native American Law to Governmental Accountability, and everywhere in between. Especially pertinent to members of OUTlaw was the LGBT session hosted by WNEC Law's very own Professor Taylor Flynn and Jennifer Pizer, Senior Counsel and Marriage Project Director at Lambda Legal. Jennifer Pizer was also the keynote speaker on Saturday evening. She flew in that afternoon from Hawaii, just for the day, to speak at the retreat and was on a plane back to the west coast in less than 24 hours. We were (and are) very grateful that she so literally went out of her way to come and speak to us. The LGBT discussions were centered around the Perry v. Schwarzenegger case challenging the passing of Proposition 8 in California. The topic was used as lens through which we could better understand the LGBT movement: its history, where it stands currently, and where we are headed in the future. Particularly interesting was the discussion regarding impact litigation and the importance of bringing a case at the right time: though there is a heated and immediate demand for equality, we must patiently persevere in order avoid devastating set-backs. The message overall, however, was that we will get there.

The energy in a room full of extraordinary people who are absolutely determined to change the world and are so focused on the human face of the law is an experience beyond words. We left with a renewed clarity of direction, feeling energized, inspired, and eager to get to work. It was our Turning Point and I feel so fortunate to have been a part of it.

-Erika Scibelli, 1L

If you would like to know more about the retreat, please feel free to contact me on Facebook or at outlaw.wnec@gmail.com.

New arguments filed in Prop 8 case

The Associated Press reported that on Friday, counsel for Proposition 8 sponsors filed new arguments for Chief U.S Judge Vaughn Walker to consider. The new arguments claim that same-sex marriages would undermine heterosexual marriages by opening the door for polygamist marriages, among other things. Plaintiffs' counsel states that there is no evidence to support that claim.

Check back for updates on the scheduling of closing arguments in this case.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

New York State Senate passes Family Health Care Decisions Act

Empire State Pride Agenda reports in it's newsletter:
NYS Legislature Provides Medical Decision Making Authority to Same-Sex Partners
"After being stalled in the Legislature for 17 years, the New York State Senate has finally joined the Assembly in passing the Family Health Care Decisions Act that enables a loved one to made health care decisions when the patient is not able to do so. The bill places a same-sex or opposite-sex domestic partner, just like a spouse, ahead of a surviving child or parent in making these decisions. Governor Paterson has said he will sign the bill into law when it is sent to him.
New York has been one of just two states where without a health care proxy, no one—not a domestic partner, spouse, or family member—could make health care decisions when the patient lacked the ability to do so. This gap in state law has sometimes forced loved ones to seek medical decision-making authority from a judge at the very time they should be focusing all their attention on caring for their partner.
Now, loved ones including same-sex spouses who were married out-of-state or fit the domestic partnership definition will have the ability to make these decisions. The domestic partnership definition is expansive, and includes those who may not be able to formally record their relationship because there is no domestic partner registry where they live. The Pride Agenda was instrumental in the redrafting of this domestic partner language to make sure it was uniform with all other domestic partner definitions in state law, such as that found in the hospital visitation bill that became law in 2004 and the control of bodily remains bill that became law in 2006.
Since same-sex couples still do not have the legal right to get married in New York State, the Pride Agenda has worked hard over the past few years to make sure LGBT families have protections in state law covering important end-of-life situations. When the Governor signs this measure into the law, the three most common situations where blood relatives sometimes seek to exclude a LGBT partner—hospital visitation, medical decision-making and the ability to make decisions about the disposition of partner remains—can no longer occur in New York State.
“We thank the Assembly and Assemblymember Gottfried for leading this effort for so many years and are glad the Senate has finally passed this measure and the Governor will be signing it into law,” said Executive Director Alan van Capelle."

Civil rights attorney Helen Trainor to speak at WNEC Law

On Wed. March 3rd at 4:00 pm in Room C, civil rights attorney Helen Trainor will speak about her role in helping to close the so-called "butch wing" at Fluvanna Correctional Center, a prison designated for women in Virginia. For more than a year, prisoners who were gay or perceived to be gay were housed in a separate unit called the "butch wing" and taunted by guards. After the story was reported by the Associated Press, in part thanks to Helen's efforts, the practice was discontinued.

Thanks to Professor Shay for this information!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Maryland AG says the state will recognize same-sex marriages

Maryland's Attorney General, Douglas F. Gansler (D), says that the state will begin to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, effective immediately. The opinion given by the AG does not allow same-sex marriages to be performed in the state, nor is it the law. Instead, it is an instruction to the courts and state agencies about how to proceed in matters regarding same-sex couples married in other states. This opinion is especially important because of Maryland's proximity to Washington, D.C which will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in March. Next month, the House Judiciary Committee in MD will consider a bill that would allow same-sex marriages to be performed in that state.
Equality Maryland & Freedom to Marry have both praised AG Gansler's opinion.

Guyanese group seeks to tackle transphobia

The New York Times reports via Reuters:
"GEORGETOWN (Reuters) - A group of transgender men in Guyana have asked the country's Supreme Court to strike down laws that leave them open to arrest following a police crackdown on male cross-dressers.
Police in the tiny South American country, where both homosexuality and transgender dress have been illegal for decades, detained and briefly held six transgender males in jail last February on charges of "cross-dressing."
"It was one of the most humiliating experiences of my life. I felt like I was less than human," Seon Clarke, who was among those detained last year, said in a statement from Guyana's Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) on Monday.
Clarke is also one of those who on Friday filed a motion for the Supreme Court to overturn the sexual orientation and dress laws. SASOD, which is representing the group, said it had assembled an international team of lawyers for the case.
The recent crackdown brought criticism from international rights groups, and drew attention to similar laws that make homosexual activity and transgender dress a crime in many of the Caribbean region's former British colonies.
The Supreme Court has not said whether it will hear the case.
Guyanese law prohibits men from appearing in public in female attire, and vice versa. The law appears in a section of Guyana's legal code that also makes homosexuality a crime.
An effort to overturn the laws has been opposed by Guyana's powerful Christian, Hindu and Muslim clergy and has gained little traction with the government.


(Reporting by Neil Marks in Georgetown. Writing by Joshua Schneyer; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Paul Simao)"

Arrest warrant issued for Lisa Miller in custody battle

The Advocate reports:
Arrest Warrant Issued in Lesbian Parent Custody Case
By Advocate.com Editors

In a high-profile same-sex parent custody case, an arrest warrant has been issued for a woman who refused to transfer custody of her 7-year-old daughter to her former partner in Vermont before disappearing.
In late January a judge in Vermont family court had given Lisa Miller of Forest, Va., 30 days to appear in court with her daughter after she had failed to turn the child over to her ex-partner, Janet Jenkins, who had been granted full custody.
In 2000 the couple joined in a civil union in the state and had a daughter, Isabella, via artificial insemination in 2002.
A year later, Miller and Jenkins ended their relationship. Miller moved to Virginia and became an evangelical Christian.
The custody dispute has attracted national attention, with Jenkins appearing on Nightline in January to tell her story. “My goal has never been to separate Isabella from her other mother, Lisa,” Jenkins said. “I just want what is best for our child, and that is to know both of her parents.”
Miller’s whereabouts have been unknown since November. In December she wrote on her Facebook page that the Vermont judge’s decision to award custody to her former partner was a “dark ruling.”

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Gay Immigration Bill Gains Key Cosponsor

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) signs on as cosponsor of the LGBT immigration bill that would extend immigration rights to same-sex couples and families. Follow the link below to the full article.

Gay Immigration Bill Gains Key Cosponsor News Advocate.com

Minnesota to consider same-sex marriage

Minnesota is set to hold a hearing regarding the Marriage & Family Protection Act which includes measures that would establish civil unions and recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages. Andy Birkey of The Minnesota Independent reports:
Same-sex marriage to get ‘historic’ hearing at Minnesota Capitol
"LGBT advocates are calling an upcoming Minnesota House committee hearing on same-sex marriage “historic.” The hearing, to be held Monday afternoon, will be the first time same-sex marriage will be discussed in a committee hearing without the specter of a constitutional ban on gay marriage — a measure Republicans have tried for years to pass.
The only hitch: It’s only for informational purposes, and no vote will be taken.
OutFront Minnesota, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy group, says that’s okay. It’s still progress
“Although no votes will be taken Monday, the hearing will be historic because it is the first time a committee in our state Legislature will be looking at what enacting marriage equality means for Minnesota,” the group wrote in an email on Thursday.
Three measures will be discussed: a bill to make marriage gender neutral (the Marriage and Family Protection Act), a bill to establish civil unions, and a bill to allow for the recognition of same-sex marriage performed outside Minnesota
Doug Benson, the citizen author of the Marriage and Family Protection Act, said the hearing seems to be more an effort to stifle gay marriage supporters during an election year.
“It’s basically a show hearing,” he said.
But OutFront believes it’s a good opportunity to let legislators know how important the issue is.
“Supporters of marriage equality will speak about what it would be like if our state no longer explicitly barred same-sex couples from legal protections. Legislators will hear from experts and their constituents that discrimination against people because of who they love or who they are is wrong.”

Monday, February 22, 2010

Flyers for sale: OUTlaw fundraiser for OUTnow at Diva's

Stop by the OUTlaw table outside the cafeteria on Tuesday or Wednesday to purchase your flyer for the fundraiser/social event. The flyer is $1 and will get you a reduced cover charge at Diva's on Thursday, February 25th (the cost of the flyer + the cost of discounted cover is STILL less expensive than Diva's usual cover!) All the proceeds made from the sale of the flyers will be donated to OUTnow, an LGBTQ youth organization in Springfield, MA.

Throw on your best cowboy attire and have a great time while supporting an even greater organization!

(If you're not from WNEC and would still like to support a great cause, please contact Erika Scibelli via Facebook or email at outlaw.wnec@gmail.com)

Challenging Gender Stereotypes at the JMG, Smith College

At the John M. Greene Performing Arts Center- Smith College:
Save this date, and spread the word!


In an effort to raise awareness about the Ada Comstock program and to foster a general sense of connectedness throughout the campus, especially between the traditional students and Ada Comstock students, we are planning an event at 8PM on March 27th at JMG showcasing All The Kings Men (ATKM) www.atkm.com, an award winning, all female, physical theatre ensemble that has been performing original, cabaret style club shows and workshops for seven years, throughout the U.S. and Canada in schools, theaters and educational conferences.


All The Kings Men push boundaries and stereotypes of gender, and explore this identity through comedic and dramatic storytelling, set to music. Utilizing physical theatre, dance, comedy, lip-synchs and character based sketch work, ATKM puts on a comic and thought provoking show, where women play all the roles. Through creative storytelling, movement and elaborate costuming, All The Kings Men custom-create their scenes from each individual song choice. With a catalogue of over 100 sketches, no show is ever completely the same; as individual as the scenes that go into it. In any given night you can see an eclectic collaboration of dance, characters, impersonation, comedy and drama that is always abundant in entertainment, as well as educational value.
Please join us for an exciting night!

Tickets available anytime at Northampton Box Office:
Smith Students- $5
Other Students- $7
Everyone Else- $15
Tickets also available at Smith College Campus Center for students 11am-1pm: Feb 25-26; Mar 1, 4-5; Mar 8-9; Mar 22-24, 26

Thanks to Treasurer Emily Kagan for this information!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

2nd UPDATE: Fundraiser for OUTnow at Diva's Nightclub

2nd Update: The fundraiser is back on, and we will be selling flyers to get into the event for $1. You'll need one of these flyers to get the discounted cover charge at Diva's so stop by the table outside the cafeteria during the lunch hour. If you're not from WNEC but would like to donate and get a flyer, please contact Erika Scibelli via Facebook or email at outlaw.wnec@gmail.com.

On Thursday February 25th at 9:30 p.m, WNEC OUTlaw and WNEC's undergrad GSA are hosting a fundraiser for OUTnow at Diva's Nightclub in Northampton, Mass. OUTnow is an LGBTQ youth organization here in Springfield. The cost will be $1 for those who are 21+ and $5 for those who are 18-20. (Please bring your flyer to get these prices at the door.) Come in your cowboy-themed gear and support a great cause! We hope to see you all there!
Directions to Diva's


photo from zazzle.com

Lunch with Professor Jennifer Levi

On Thursday February 25th at noon, Professor Jennifer Levi will be meeting with students in Room E to discuss her recent U.S Tax Court win. You can read more about the story here. Please join us!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Upcoming WNEC OUTlaw events

OUTlaw is planning a lunch with Professor Jennifer Levi at noon on Thursday, February 25th to discuss her recent U.S Tax Court win. We are also planning a fundraising event for OUTnow at Diva's in Northampton. The fundraiser is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, February 25th as well. Check back for more details on both events... they will be available soon!

Groundbreaking Dr. Oz Show on Transgender Children Airs Thursday, Feb 18

GLAAD Blog shares:
Groundbreaking Dr. Oz Show on Transgender Children Airs Thursday, Feb 18

Posted using ShareThis

The Advocate asks- "What can Brown do for you?"

The March issue of The Advocate has published an interesting read by Julie Bolcer.  What does the road ahead look like for LGBTQ equality following Senator Brown's election here in Massachusetts? Read Julie's article here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lt. Dan Choi is asked to return to his unit

Here is a great article by Michelle Garcia of The Advocate regarding Lt. Dan Choi, "the face" of the DADT repeal movement.

New Mexico kills domestic partnership bill

With a vote of 7-4, the senate finance committee in NM ended the possibility that the domestic partnership bill would be passed this year. Senator Peter Wirth believes the bill will be back next year.

Texas AG intervenes in same-sex divorce case... again.

The Advocate's Julie Bolcer reports that Texas AG Greg Abbott has intervened in a second same-sex divorce case. The first case involved two men who filed for a divorce and it was granted by Judge Tena Callahan. Abbott said then, as he does now, that it is the wrong legal remedy because the couples were not legally married in Texas. Instead, Abbott says the marriage should be made legally void. The couple in the most recent case are two women who were married here in Massachusetts and now seek a divorce. More details about the couples and the interventions can be read in the full article on The Advocate's webiste.

Monday, February 15, 2010

WNEC OUTlaw Meeting- February 17th

Hi everyone-
OUTlaw will be meeting this Wednesday, February 17th at noon in room 4. Please mark it on your schedules and join us! New faces and ideas are always welcome :) Email outlaw.wnec@gmail.com with any questions.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Openly gay mayor of Providence, RI will run for Congress

The Advocate's Julie Bolcer reports:
"David Cicilline, the gay mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, announced Saturday that he will run for the congressional seat to be vacated by Rep. Patrick Kennedy.
According to GayPolitics.com, intense competition is expected to surround the race for the Democratic nomination.
”The two-term mayor began to consider running after U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) shocked political observers by announcing he would not run for reelection this year,” reports GayPolitics.com. “Kennedy, son of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, was first elected to the seat in 1994. Cicilline will face state Democratic Party Chair William Lynch, who also announced his candidacy, and could face a number of other contenders.”
Cicilline, 49, was elected mayor in 2002. He would become the fourth openly gay member of the U.S. House of Representatives, if elected to the seat."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

"The Forgotten T"- WNEC Law Alumnus M. Dru Levasseur in ABA Journal

Below is an excerpt from an article in the most recent edition of the ABA Journal. WNEC Law alumnus M. Dru Levasseur talks about his transition during law school and the hiring process after graduation. The full article is called "Just Like Everyone. Inclusiveness efforts seek to make GLBT lawyers—and all others—feel at home." and it can be accessed here.
The Forgotten T

The T in GLBT represents transgender individuals, a minority within the minority facing a kind of discrimination and disrespect that few, even within the gay and lesbian community, have considered.
M. Dru Levasseur faced challenges few other students encounter when he transitioned during law school. “People met me as female and under a different name,” says the 2006 graduate of Western New England College School of Law, “and there was no way for me to have a different way to come out.”
One of Levasseur’s biggest challenges was how to address his gender identity during the hiring process.

“A lot of my jobs outed me, so I said on my cover letter that I was a transgender attorney,” he says. “During an interview, one person asked, ‘Do you really think it’s a good idea to tell people you’re a transgender attorney?’ I said, ‘Yes, I do. In fact, I think it’s a strength that I’ve gone through the challenge of transitioning, and I’m still a great attorney and have achieved in spite of all the extra stress.” He got a job offer there.

Levasseur also faced outright discrimination. “I was on a second interview [at a Northeastern office of a national firm], and the partner asked, ‘What’s transgender?’ ” he recounts. “I started telling him, and he interrupted and said, ‘There are no gay people at the firm. If you wanted to start a gay group, you’d be the only one in it.’ ”

Levasseur, now a staff attorney at the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund in New York City, believes his candor about being a transgender attorney dented his job prospects. “I felt like my choice to be an out transgender attorney limited my options,” he says. “Diversity is coming around and it’s a hot topic, but being a transgender attorney is still an issue.”

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Jenny Pizer, keynote speaker at Robert Cover Public Interest Retreat

Robert M. Cover Public Interest Law Retreat

February 26-28th in Peterborough, New Hampshire

This year Jenny Pizer of Lamda Legal is the keynote speaker at the Cover Retreat. She has done amazing work on LGBT issues including recent work on the Proposition 8 issue in California. She will also facilitate a discussion-based workshop along with Professor Flynn of WNEC. This is an amazing opportunity to meet someone who is doing frontline work for the LGBT community. There will also be plenty of chances to meet and speak with professors and other public interest practitioners in a relaxing, fun and casual setting. Please register here and join us in New Hampshire for this great event.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

National Gay & Lesbian Task Force gives State of the Movement address

Rea Carey, Executive Director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force gave the State of the Movement address at the Creating Change conference this past weekend. Read the whole text of her speech here.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

New Orleans Saints linebacker speaks out for LGBTQ rights

It's Super Bowl Sunday and the Saints have just given New Orleans its first Super Bowl victory. Bourbon Street is undoubtedly rocking tonight.

The Advocate has posted an article that includes an interview with Scott Fujita, a linebacker for the Saints regarding his views on equal rights and same-sex marriage. It's a great read and refreshing to see a professional athlete boldly speak out for what he knows is right. Check out the article by The Advocate here.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Big "Thank You!" to 16 Acres Garden Center!

Many, many thanks to 16 Acres Garden Center in Springfield, MA for its donation to OUTlaw's Love for Haiti fundraiser! 16 Acres has agreed to donate carnations that can be purchased for $1 dollar and delivered to the student, faculty, or staff member of your choosing. ALL proceeds will be donated. Please stop by the OUTlaw table from 12-1 on Monday and Tuesday to make your purchase!
Again, we truly appreciate 16 Acres Garden Center's support for this project. We wouldn't be able to do it without them!

Congress asks Ugandan Parliament to reject anti-LGBT bill

Michelle Garcia of The Advocate reports that Congress has passed a bipartisan resolution asking the Ugandan parliament to reject an anti-LGBT bill. The bill was proposed by parliamentary member David Bahati and would criminalize homosexuality with punishments as severe as life in prison or death. Read the full article here.

NPR posts an article from The Nation which, among other things, lists a number of ways that Americans can fight this atrocity from home.

Transgender murder is unsolved in Houston, TX

Courtney Zubowski of KHOU News in Houston reports:
HOUSTON -- Mystery still surrounds the murder of Myra Ical, a transgender woman, who was found dead in a field in Montrose last week.
“She died struggling for her life,” said Cristan Williams, the Executive Director of the Transgender Foundation of America. “It’s personal. I feel it on a personal level.


The body of the 51-year-old was found in the 4300 block of Garrott near Richmond.


Police said her body was covered in bruises and showed signs that she tried to fight back.


Williams said she has been in constant contact with police.


“She went down fighting and she was literally beaten to death,” she said.


Police said Ical was previously known as Ruben Dario Ical.


Investigators are not calling this a hate crime, but they’re not ruling out anything at this time.


“It concerns me a lot,” said Lou Weaver, who is helping plan a vigil for Ical. “A lot of my friends live around here. I drive down this road constantly going to and from where I live.”


Weaver and Williams said it doesn’t appear as if Ical has family living in the Houston area. They’ve seen her at some of their transgender support group meetings and have taken on the task of putting up fliers throughout the neighborhood.


“We’re just interested in solving this crime,” said Williams.


Williams is hoping someone in the neighborhood saw or heard something that will lead to justice for Myra Ical."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

MD denies same-sex marriage ban; NM advances partnership bill

The Baltimore Sun reports an article from the AP:
"Members of a Maryland House committee on Wednesday shot down a bill that would prohibit Maryland from recognizing gay marriages validated by other states or countries.
The House of Delegates Judiciary Committee voted against the proposal from Baltimore County Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr.
The same committee has rejected similar measures introduced in other years. Its vote prevents the bill from going to the House floor for debate.


In neighboring Washington, D.C., gay couples will likely be able to apply soon for marriage licenses. The district's City Council passed a bill in December legalizing same-sex marriage.


Congress oversees the district's laws, however, and the bill must pass a period of 30-day review by Congress."
Meanwhile, The Advocate's Michelle Garcia says that New Mexico's domestic partnership bill has cleared one of several hurdles. Read more about New Mexico's bill here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Professor Jennifer Levi part of transgender win in U.S Tax Court

WNEC Law's faculty has played an important role in LGBT equality issues. Most recently, Professor Jennifer Levi represented U.S taxpayer Rhiannon O'Donnabhain in U.S Tax Court. Ms. O'Donnabhain claimed her treatment for Gender Identity Disorder (GID) as tax deductible, but the IRS did not agree. This week, the court ruled in favor of Ms. O'Donnabhain and held that treatment for GID is indeed tax deductible as medical care.

GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders) News posts:
February 02, 2010
"The U.S. Tax Court today issued a long-awaited decision in O’Donnabhain v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, ruling that treatment for gender identity disorder (GID) qualifies as medical care under the Internal Revenue Code, and is therefore deductible.
“This decision treats Rhiannon O’Donnabhain the way she deserves to be treated—like any hard-working American taxpayer with medical expenses,” said Karen Loewy, senior staff attorney with Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), which represented Ms. O’Donnabhain.
“From the start, this has been a no-brainer. Every mainstream medical authority from the American Psychiatric Association to the National Institutes of Health recognize the legitimacy of providing medical care for transgender people. Dismissing these medical expenses as illegitimate and not deductible was discrimination, pure and simple.”
In an opinion reviewed by the full bench, the United States Tax Court affirmed that medical treatments for GID, including surgery and hormone therapy, are deductible medical expenses. Moreover, the Court stated that the IRS’s position that such treatment is cosmetic in nature “is at best a superficial characterization of the circumstances that is thoroughly rebutted by the medical evidence.”
“I’m overjoyed, not only for me, but for other transgender people,” said Ms. O’Donnabhain. “We deserve respect, equal treatment for our medical care, and fair treatment by our government.”
Professor Levi was also cocounsel to the seven plaintiff couples in the Goodridge decision that made Massachusetts the first state to legalize same-sex marriage and she is the director of GLAD's Transgender Rights Project.

Congratulations to Professor Levi, GLAD, and Ms. O'Donnabhain!