Tuesday, December 20, 2011

HIV Positive Man Faces Workplace Discrimination

James White was diagnosed with HIV six months before he began his job as an office worker at Great Expressions Dental Center in Eastside Detroit. When the office manager inquired as to the nature of his doctors appointments, White told her in confidence that he tested positive for HIV. However, everyone at the office soon heard the news, including the company's regional director who told White he heard he had AIDS. The problems did not end there. White was prohibited from touching doorknobs and staffers began following him around with Lysol to spray anything he touched. Finally, after being briefly hospitalized in large part due to the overwhelming stress from work, the clinic chose to fire him. Now, the Detroit office of the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission has ruled that the dental company had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Full story compliments of Queerty.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Brandon McInerney Sentenced to 21 Years in Prison

Months after Brandon McInerney's trial ended in a hung jury, the teen has now been sentenced to 21 years in prison in exchange for pleading guilty to second-degree manslaughter and voluntary manslaughter. McInerney, who fatally shot Lawrence "Larry" King in the back of the head in 2008 for being gay, will be 38 years-old by the time he is released. McInerney's defense painted the picture of a student who could no longer stand King's repeated sexual advances, but in reality McInerney was a budding white supremacist who owned a copy of "Mein Kampf", had a notebook filled with Nazi symbols and associated with a racist gang called the S.S.L. This news, however, has not stopped anti-gay figures such as the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer and Save California's Randy Thomasson from blaming King's death on his own "flamboyant behavior" and portraying McInerney as the real victim.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

America's LGBT Homeless Problem

Photo courtesy of Margot Adler/NPR

NPR provides an excellent piece on homeless LGBT youth in America entitled "Young, Gay And Homeless: Fighting For Resources." What is revealing is that somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of homeless youths identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, with much of this problem stemming from them being kicked out of their homes by their own families.

Friday, November 18, 2011

California Supreme Court: Prop 8 Backers Can Challenge Court Ruling

On Thursday the California Supreme Court ruled that ProtectMarriage.com, the official proponent of Proposition 8, has legal standing to challenge the 2010 decision by District Judge Vaughn Walker which overturned the ban on same-sex marriage. Now that the issue of standing has been settled, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will be able to decide the case on its merits and determine whether or not Prop 8 is unconstitutional. Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, a key Prop 8 contributor, stated that while he fully expects the Ninth Circuit to invalidate Prop 8 and find "some phony right to same-sex marriage in the U.S. Constitution", he nevertheless expects victory "once this case gets out of San Francisco" and reaches the U.S. Supreme Court.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Massachusetts Passes Transgender Anti-Discrimination Bill

The Massachusetts Senate passed a bill which protects transgender people in the housing and credit industries as well as the workplace, and includes them under hate crime protections. The bill also adds the definition of gender identity to the General Laws of Massachusetts:

"Gender identity" shall mean a person's gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person's physiology or assigned sex at birth. Gender-related identity may be shown by providing evidence including, but not limited to, medical history, care or treatment of the gender-related identity, consistent and uniform assertion of the gender-related identity or any other evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held, as part of a person's core identity; provided however, gender-related identity shall not be asserted for improper purpose.

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 95-56 and has been sent to be signed by Governor Deval Patrick.

Thanks to OUTlaw 1L Rep. Kaley Lentini for the link.

Religious Exemption Dropped from MI Anti-Bullying Law

Earlier this month the Michigan State Senate passed "Matt's Safe School Law", a piece of anti-bullying legislation named after Matt Epling, an East Lansing teen who committed suicide after being subjected to relentless homophobic bullying. The law, designed to prohibit harassment and bullying at school, was met with fierce opposition by anti-gay activists such as the Michigan AFA's Gary Glenn, who called it a "Trojan Horse" for "homosexual activists." Republican Senators briefly added an exemption for bullying based on "religious or moral convictions", igniting a firestorm of controversy and earning them a stinging rebuke from Democratic Senator Gretchen Whitmer. In response, Senator Rick Jones has agreed to drop the religious exemption and leave the bill as it was originally intended.

Monday, November 14, 2011

MA Transgender Rights Bill

Advocates report that the House is set to debate a transgender rights bill. Read more from Masslive.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

American Bar Association Supports Repeal of DOMA

The American Bar Association (ABA) has now officially gone on record in support of the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Thomas Susman, the director of  the ABA’s Governmental Affairs Office, sent a letter to the senate judiciary committee in which he voiced the ABA's support for repealing the law on the grounds that it is "discriminatory" and causes "legal confusion and complications."

Special thanks to OUTlaw President Erika Scibelli for finding the article.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Pushes for LGBT Adoption Bill

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is now pushing for federal legislation which would legalize adoption of children by LGBT parents nationwide, even though 11 states currently prohibit adoption by gay individuals and same-sex couples. According to the text of the bill, the 'Every Child Deserves a Family Act' would "prohibit discrimination in adoption or foster care placements based on the sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status of any prospective adoptive or foster parent, or the sexual orientation or gender identity of the child involved."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Supports Gay Rights

It was only last year that the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai, publicly supported the radical anti-gay views of President Robert Mugabe, who has called gays and lesbians "worse than pigs and dogs." Now Tsvangirai has reversed his position on the subject, saying the rights of gays and lesbians should be protected by the new Zimbabwean constitution that is currently being drafted. In an interview with the BBC Tsvangirai said, "It's a very controversial subject in my part of the world. My attitude is that I hope the constitution will come out with freedom of sexual orientation, for as long as it does not interfere with anybody." He then added that "To me, it's a human right." This is a strong sign of progress in a nation where homosexuality is currently illegal.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Beth Robinson Nominated to Vermont's Highest Court

Beth Robinson
Gov. Peter Shumlin announced that he has nominated Beth Robinson to the state Supreme Court of Vermont. Robinson, an out lesbian, has an extensive pro-equality background. Robinson was part of the legal team that represented three same-sex couples who were being denied the rights and benefits of marriage in the 1999 case of Baker v. Vermont. The Vermont Supreme Court ruled unanimously that denying same-sex couples the same benefits bestowed upon heterosexual couples was a violation of the state's constitution and ordered the legislature produce a remedy, leading to the legalization of same-sex civil unions in 2000. Robinson also, as the head of Vermont Freedom to Marry, played a pivotal role in passing legislation which legalized same-sex marriage in Vermont in 2009. And although some LGBT rights opponents such as Craig Benson--who cites as a concern the idea that small businesses will be sued by people who are "feeling transgendered that day" and may wish to use their bathrooms--have openly criticized the nomination, Robinson has found support from many other sources including the executive director of the Vermont Bar Association.

Special thanks to Sam Charron, Career Services Assistant Director and Public Interest Coordinator, for finding the article.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Herman Cain Calls Homosexuality a "Sin" and a "Choice"

In a recent interview with Piers Morgan, Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain stated that it is his belief that homosexuality is a "sin" as well as a "choice." When Piers Morgan pressed further, asking Cain if he really believed this, Cain responded by demanding scientific evidence to the contrary. While the science surrounding sexual orientation is complex, a 2006 study showed a correlation between male homosexuality and the number of older male (biological) siblings. In 2007, researchers discovered that by altering a specific gene in fruit flies they could effectively make the flies bisexual. In 2008 it was reported that a gene found in gay men caused an increase in fertility when present in women, which may partly explain the genetic components of male homosexuality as well as explain why homosexuality has survived natural selection. And just last year, a study showed that the deletion of a specific gene in female mice during the embryo stage effectively turned the mice into lesbians. In other words, science is increasingly demonstrating that same-sex attraction is far from a choice, in spite of Herman Cain's objections.

FBI Expands its Official Definition of Rape

The FBI's Uniform Crime Report Subcommittee has unanimously voted to officially change the definition of rape from "the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will" to "Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim." As the Feministing blog notes, this expanded definition now covers statutory rape, same-sex rape, rape with an object, forced oral or anal sex, male victims, transgender victims, victims with disabilities and victims whose consent has been "diminished" by alcohol or drugs. Astonishingly, the FBI had been using its previous definition of rape since 1929 without any alterations.

(Special thanks to OUTlaw VP Caitlin Childs for finding this story.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

OUTlaw Meeting This Wednesday at Noon!

OUTlaw will be having its next meeting this Wednesday at noon in Room 1 (a.k.a. the usual). Hope to see you there!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Progress on Repeal of the "Defense of Marriage Act"

Sen. Patrick Leahy
In July, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) chaired a hearing on a possible repeal of the "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA). Under the act, passed in 1996, a marriage was legally defined as "only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife", and no State may be required to recognize as a marriage any same-sex relationship recognized as a marriage in another State. Furthermore, federal marriage benefits which are granted to heterosexual married couples may not be granted to their same-sex counterparts. On October 14th, 2011, Sen. Leahy issued a press release stating that he intends to schedule Committee consideration of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal and replace DOMA. The text of the bill is as follows:

‘(a) For the purposes of any Federal law in which marital status is a factor, an individual shall be considered married if that individual’s marriage is valid in the State where the marriage was entered into or, in the case of a marriage entered into outside any State, if the marriage is valid in the place where entered into and the marriage could have been entered into in a State.

‘(b) In this section, the term ‘State’ means a State, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any other territory or possession of the United States.’

Friday, October 14, 2011

Out Servicemember Runs for Seat in CO House in Post-DADT America

Yesterday, Chris Geidner of MetroWeekly's Poliglot reported that Brian Carroll, an out servicemember, is running for a seat in the CO house.  Read all of Geidner's article here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Opponents of FAIR Education Act Fail.

Today, Roland Palencia, Executive Director of Equality California, announced that anti-equality opponents of the FAIR Education Act failed to collect the requisite amount of signatures to qualify the referendum for the 2012 ballot.

EQCA reports:
"(San Francisco) Today, anti-equality advocates announced that they have failed to collect the required number of signatures to place a referendum for the November 2012 ballot to overturn the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act. 
The FAIR Education Act, authored by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by Equality California and GSA Network, was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown earlier this year. It requires schools to integrate age-appropriate and factual information about historical roles of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, people with disabilities and people of color into existing social science instruction. 
The FAIR Education Act will simply ensure that California’s students learn an honest, accurate, and inclusive account of history, but opponents of equality have grossly distorted the intent and the effect of the FAIR Education act in their quest to secure signatures for this referendum. Today's victory shows that their lies cannot stand up to our truth,” said Roland Palencia, Equality California Executive Director and Interim Executive Committee Co-Chair of the coalition to protect the FAIR Education Act. “But we know that opponents of equality won't stop here. We remain vigilant, not only to make sure that people know the facts about the FAIR Education Act, but also to continue preparing for new attacks on the FAIR Education Act at the ballot box, in the legislature and in courts of law.” 
Now it's time to focus on implementing the FAIR Education Act and demonstrate to the public that our opponents’ lies are nothing more than smear tactics designed to censor the historical contributions of LGBT people, people with disabilities and people of color from social studies classes,” said Laura Valdez, Interim Executive Director of Gay-Straight Alliance Network and Co-Chair of the Interim Executive Committee of the coalition to protect the FAIR Education Act. “Already, we are working with school administrators, teachers, students, parents, and community groups to ensure the fair and accurate portrayal of historically marginalized groups in schools, and we will continue to work to educate the public.” 
Today’s news is welcome and it comes as the Second Annual Disability History Week in full swing, a reminder that youth with disabilities are powerful voices for change and tolerance,” said Teresa Favuzzi, Executive Director of the California Foundation for Independent Living. “We look forward to getting to work to implement this important law and to ensure that disability history is included in a full, inclusive, study of our history.” 
Since July, FAIR Education Act supporters across the state have built a broad coalition to protect the law and educate the public that spans people of faith; labor organizations; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights groups; disability rights advocates; racial justice organizations and many others who care about equality. These organizations remain committed to strengthening the coalition and protecting this important law. For more information, please go to www.FAIREducationAction.com
Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights advocacy organization in California. Over the past decade, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for LGBT individuals to a state with some of the most comprehensive civil rights protections in the nation. Equality California has passed more than 70 pieces of legislation and continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, electoral work, public education and community empowerment. www.eqca.org 
Gay-Straight Alliance Network (GSA Network) is a national youth leadership organization that empowers youth activists to fight homophobia and transphobia in schools by training student leaders and supporting student-led Gay-Straight Alliance clubs throughout the country. In California alone, GSA Network has brought GSA clubs to 56% of public high schools, impacting more than 1.1 million students at 850 schools. GSA Network's youth advocates have played a key role in changing laws and policies that impact youth at the local and state level. GSA Network operates the National Association of GSA Networks, which unites more than 30 statewide networks of GSA clubs throughout the country. GSA Network is also the founder of the Make It Better Project, which aims to stop bullying and prevent suicide. www.gsanetwork.org  
The California Foundation for Independent Living Centers is a statewide, non-profit trade organization made up of 25 Independent Living Centers. Through unified action, CFILC envisions civil rights for all people with disabilities. CFILC's mission is to support independent living centers in their local communities through advocating for systems change and promoting access and integration for people with disabilities. www.cfilc.org"

Monday, October 10, 2011

Misinformation Used in Attempt to Repeal LGBT History Law

On July 14th, 2011, Governor Jerry Brown signed the FAIR Education Act, which would "amend the [California] Education Code to include social sciences instruction on the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people" as well as "prohibit discriminatory instruction and discriminatory materials from being adopted by the State Board of Education." Now children who attend public schools in California will learn about great LGBT Americans such as Harvey Milk, who was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. However, religious right groups in California seek to repeal the law by way of a voter referendum. The Capitol Resource Institute, the major backer of the referendum, needs to get roughly 500,000 signatures for it to qualify for the ballot. In order to get these signatures, opponets of the law (SB48) are engaging in a dishonest smear campaign against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, as can be seen in the videos below:

In light of this, the Courage Campaign filed a complaint that the StopSB48 group is violating California Elections Code, Section 18600, which states that every person is guilty of a misdemeanor who:

(a) Circulating, as principal or agent, or having charge or control of the circulation of, or obtaining signatures to, any state or local initiative, referendum or recall petition, intentionally misrepresents or intentionally makes any false statement concerning the contents, purport or effect of the petition to any person who signs, or who desires to sign, or who is requested to sign, or who makes inquiries with reference to it, or to whom it is presented for his or her signature.

(b) Willfully and knowingly circulates, publishes, or exhibits any false statement or misrepresentation concerning the contents, purport or effect of any state or local initiative, referendum, or recall petition for the purpose of obtaining any signature to, or persuading or influencing any person to sign, that petition.

The Courage Campaign is currently asking for people to co-sign the complaint.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

If Elected Michele Bachmann Would Reinstate "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

On Tuesday evening, Presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann (R-MN) made a conference call to supporters of the Faith and Freedom Coalition in which she promised that, if elected, she would reinstate the anti-gay "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. This, of course, lends further support to critics of a recent 9th Circuit decision to dismiss the ongoing legal challenge to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Presidential Candidates to Join Anti-Gay Speakers at Values Voter Summit

Bryan Fischer at the 2009 Values Voter Summit
Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Rick Santorum will all be attending the 2011 Values Voter Summit, a conference for American social conservatives that is hosted by the Family Research Council and the American Family Association. An article by the group People for the American Way gives details about the notorious anti-LGBT figures who will be attending and speaking at the event, including Bryan Fischer, Mat Staver, Tony Perkins and Bishop Harry Jackson.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Legal Challenge to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Dismissed

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has dismissed a seven-year-old suit challenging the constitutionality of the anti-gay "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on the grounds that, since the policy has officially been repealed, the legal controversy has now ended and rendered the case moot. Over a year ago a federal judge ruled in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was a violation of gay, lesbian and bisexual soldiers' First and Fifth Amendment rights. Now, if a future Congress decided to reinstate the policy, opponents would have to start a new lawsuit from scratch in order to challenge it. Jon Davidson of Lambda Legal, a prominent LGBT civil rights organization, issued a statement saying that the 9th Circuit's decision to dismiss the suit effectively ignores the 14,000 servicemen and women who lost their jobs and benefits since DADT was enacted in 1993.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

LGBT Americans Still Targeted by State Sodomy Laws

Photo courtesy of Equality Matters
In the 2003 case of Lawrence v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court held that sodomy laws which criminalized "private homosexual conduct between consenting adults" were unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment. While this was, indeed, a landmark ruling and a positive step for LGBT rights in America, sodomy laws are still being used to persecute LGBT Americans eight years later. In 2011 eighteen states still have sodomy laws on the books and, as an article from Equality Matters explains, they are far from having fallen out of use. For example, in Michigan LGBT persons are still being charged and convicted under the state's "Abominable and Detestable Crime Against Nature” or“Gross Indecency” laws. Those convicted face a prison sentence of up to fifteen years and must register as sex offenders. Furthermore, LGBT persons face arrest and humiliation due to sodomy laws even when no sexual intercourse takes place. In 2009, a gay couple was kicked out of a restaurant by El Paso police for kissing in public. The officers told the couple that it was illegal for two men to kiss publicly and that they could be cited for "homosexual conduct." Although Texas' sodomy law was explicitly struck down in the aforementioned Supreme Court case, so long as it (and all other sodomy laws) remains on the books, it will be used to target, harass, intimidate and punish LGBT persons simply for being who they are.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Leisha Hailey Escorted Off of Southwest Airlines for Kissing Girlfriend

Actress and musician Leisha Hailey (of The L Word, The Murmurs and Uh Huh Her fame) was reportedly escorted off a Southwest Airlines flight for the act of kissing her girlfriend Camila Grey. Following the incident Hailey sent out a series of angry Tweets:
According to a joint statement issued by Hailey and Grey, they shared a modest kiss before being asked to leave the plane and were told by the flight attendant that they "needed to be aware that Southwest Airlines was a family oriented airline." In response to this statement, Southwest Airlines issued one of their own, claiming that customers complained of an "excessive public display of affection" and that the couple was removed for their "aggressive reaction" to Southwest's treatment. That being said, The Daily Beast has compiled a list of similar incidents  in which Southwest customers may have faced discrimination, including forcing Kevin Smith off of one flight due to his weight.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Retailers and Aid to Anti-Gay Organizations

A recent article from the New York Times details a link between major U.S. retailers and prominent anti-gay organizations. Companies such as Apple, Wal-Mart and Microsoft regularly do business with affiliate marketers, which direct online customers from their websites to those of the companies. The affiliate marketers, in return, receive a commission. In this case, Charity Giveback Group (CGBG) uses a share of the commission to donate to "Christian charities" such as Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council, the latter of which was designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center last year. The Family Research Council, headed by former Louisiana congressman Tony Perkins, has had a long history of disseminating false and dehumanizing propaganda about LGBT people, claiming that they will eventually "recognize pedophiles as 'prophets' of a new sexual order", making the statement that they "will not inherit the kingdom of God" following the murder of Matthew Shepard, saying that they "spit on the most sacred Person [Jesus Christ] revered and worshipped by millions", and compared them to Satanists. Petitions have largely been effective in convincing retailers to sever ties with CGBG, as 100 companies including Microsoft and Apple have ended their association with the marketer. However, several companies such as Delta, PetSmart, Sam's Club, Target and Wal-Mart initially agreed to leave the network, but later rejoined.

Hundreds in Attendance at Jamey Rodemeyer's Funeral

Jamey Rodemeyer, an openly bisexual teen who committed suicide over years of homophobic bullying, was laid to rest on Saturday. It was estimated that over 500 mourners, many of whom did not personally know Jamey or his family, attended his funeral in Williamsville, New York. According to Buffalo News, Amherst police are investigating whether or not they can charge the school bullies responsible with harassment, cyberharassment or hate crimes in relation to Jamey's suicide. It should be remembered, however, that Jamey's case is not an unusual one. According to the 2009 National School Climate Survey conducted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), nearly 90% of LGBT students experienced harassment at school while two thirds felt unsafe because of their sexual orientation. Other key findings included that 84.6% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 40.1% reported being physically harassed, 18.8% reported being physically assaulted, 72.4% reported hearing slurs such as "faggot" or "dyke" frequently or often, and the reported grade point average of students frequently harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender expression was nearly half a grade lower than for students who were less often harassed. This is a strong indication that while bullying is an issue for all school students, it is even more so for LGBT students.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Archbishop Timothy Dolan: Gay Marriage Could Cause "National Conflict"

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York has sent a letter to President Obama warning him that same-sex marriage, and particularly his administration's decision to end its legal defense of the Defense of Marriage Act, could "precipitate a national conflict between church and state of enormous proportions." Archbishop Dolan wrote that he and other Bishops have a "growing sense of urgency about recent actions taken" by the Obama Administration that "both escalate the threat to marriage and imperil the religious freedom of those who promote and defend marriage." He then goes on to criticize those who frame same-sex marriage in the context of a civil rights struggle, saying that it is "especially wrong and unfair to equate opposition to redefining marriage with either intentional or willfully ignorant racial discrimination." This is is not the first time that Archbishop Dolan has made controversial statements regarding gay rights. In an April 2009 interview with The New York Post, Dolan defended his opposition to gay marriage by saying "hard-wired into us is a dictionary, and the dictionary defines marriage as between one man, one woman for life, please God, leading to the procreation of human life." In a March 2011 interview on 60 Minutes he said that gay marriage is akin to marrying one's biological mother. In June 2011, Dolan compared the legalization of gay marriage in New York to living in a totalitarian state such as North Korea.

Proposed Bill Would Ban Anti-LGBT Discrimination in Housing and Credit Markets

Senator John Kerry (D-MA) has introduced legislation which would prohibit discrimination against LGBT Americans in both the housing and credit markets. The bill, known as the Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) Act, would amend the Fair Housing Act and Equal Opportunity Credit Act to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or source of income. The legislation has received endorsements from multiple organizations including the ACLU, NAACP, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

John Eastman Replaces Maggie Gallagher as NOM Board Chair

Maggie Gallagher has officially stepped down as the board chair of the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage (NOM). She has officially been replaced by John C. Eastman whose credentials are listed in NOM's official press release on the matter:

"Dr. John Eastman is the former Dean of Chapman University Law School in California and is the Founding Director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, a public interest law firm associated with the Claremont Institute. He has participated in over 50 cases in our nation’s highest courts, including such landmark cases as the Pledge of Allegiance case, the Boy Scouts of America case, the Ohio school vouchers case, the Kelo case involving property takings, and the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act case. Dr. Eastman is a former clerk to United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. He received his J.D. from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in government and political philosophy from Claremont Graduate School.

…John Eastman stated, 'Marriage has quite correctly been described as a bedrock of civilization. Protecting the institution of marriage is a critically important issue, and I’m honored to join such distinguished company on the Board of such a phenomenally effective organization as the National Organization for Marriage.'"

As an article for Advocate.com states, Eastman is hardly a better choice than Gallagher, who will ultimately remain on the board but devote her time to writing an anti-gay book entitled Debating Same-Sex Marriage.

DADT Aftermath: Marine Recruiters Visit Gay Center

Marine recruiters were invited to set up a booth at a gay center in Tulsa, Oklahoma immediately following the official end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." According to the Marines, only one in ten applicants qualify for service, and the majority of applicants are turned down for multiple reasons (e.g. obesity, asthma, Attention Deficit Disorder), but sexual orientation is no longer one of them. As one of the recruiters, Master Sgt. Anthony Henry, said, "My take is, if they [gays, lesbians and bisexuals] can make it through our boot camp, which is the toughest boot camp in the world, then they ought to have the opportunity to wear the uniform."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Focus on the Family Donates Anti-Gay Books to Public School Libraries

Although Focus on the Family has taken the viewpoint that "Banned Book Week" was created by extremists and actively censors conservative Christians, they have decided to donate anti-gay reading material to public school libraries. CitizenLink, a Focus on the Family affiliate, created a list of books one can donate in order to promote "true diversity." Approved books on the list include Leaving Homosexuality and Someone I Love is Gay, the latter of which asserts that a benefit of being afflicted with AIDS is developing a "renewed passion for God."

Buffalo Teen Commits Suicide Over Anti-Gay Bullying

Sad news from Buffalo, NY: 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer was found dead outside his home in an apparent suicide. Prior to his death he was subjected to vicious homophobic bullying at school. Rodemeyer often blogged about these experiences, and wrote in a Sept. 8th entry that he was called anti-gay slurs by other students. Unfortunately for Jamey the taunting didn't end when he left school. He received numerous anonymous messages on his blog such as this:


"I wouldn't care if you died. No one would. So just do it :) It would make everyone WAY more happier!"

On Sunday at 1:30 AM he posted a message on his blog giving thanks to Lady Gaga and expressing his desire to see his great-grandmother who recently passed away. It was his final blog entry.

The death of Jamey Rodemeyer was a particularly tragic one, but we should all remember that this teen (described as a "friend to the friendless" by his peers) was a tireless anti-bullying advocate who once took part in the It Gets Better Project. Here is Jamey's video from May, 2011:

The End of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Yesterday the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", a policy which barred openly gay and lesbian Americans from serving in the armed forces, officially took effect. While this move does not affect transgender Americans, who are still not allowed to serve, and will not reinstate soldiers discharged while it was in place, this is still an historic time for America. Now gay, lesbian and bisexual soldiers who defend our nation will no longer be required to hide their true feelings and identities for fear of losing their jobs. One soldier took the opportunity to call his father and reveal that he is a gay man--his father assured him that he loves him unconditionally and that this would not affect their relationship in any way. OutServe Magazine published names and photos of 101 courageous soldiers who were previously forced to live their lives in the closet. Navy Lt. Gary Ross finally married his partner of eleven years in Vermont. The Marine Corps spent time deleting multiple references to "homosexual conduct" from their regulations handbook. While the controversy surrounding DADT is far from over, this is a major step in the right direction.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Judge Ware orders Prop 8 tapes released

Today, Chief Judge Ware of the U.S. District for the Northern District of California, handed down his order to release the tapes of the Proposition 8 trial. Read the response from Shannon Minter, Esq., Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Growing LGBTI Rights Movement in Anti-Gay Kenya

It is no secret that homosexuality is strongly opposed in many African countries, and the nation of Kenya is no exception. Under Kenyan law, homosexual sex (referred to as "carnal knowledge against the order of nature") is a crime punishable by up to fourteen years in prison. A 2007 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center revealed that 96% of Kenyans believe that society should reject homosexuality. In a 2011 survey by the Kenya Human Rights Commission, 18% of respondents came out to their families or were outted. 89% of those respondents who came out or were outted were subsequently disowned by their families. It further compiled stories of the respondents who told of being harassed by police officers, being forced to attend counseling sessions to end their "confusion", and how intersex children (oftentimes viewed as a curse in Kenya) are either abandoned or killed. However as a Trust.org article notes, there is progress being made in the field of LGBTI rights. Although it appears to be an uphill battle, Kenya recently held its first ever gay film festival early this month. In addition, a website called Freedom in Speech was created with the goal of giving a voice to LGBTI Kenyans. It may not be much, but all civil rights movements must start somewhere.

Britain: Gay Marriage by 2015?

In some good news from our friends across the pond, legislators in Britain are pushing to legalize same-sex marriage. This effort, led by Liberal Democrat Lynne Featherstone and supported by Prime Minister David Cameron, may result in same-sex couples being able to legally wed by the year 2015. According to a 2005 Gallup Poll, 61% of Britons said they felt that "homosexual behavior" is morally acceptable, while a 2009 poll conducted by The Times revealed that 61% of Britons favored equal rights for gays and lesbians, including the right to marry.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

OUTlaw Meeting Next Wednesday at Noon!

So the next meeting of OUTlaw will be held on Wednesday, September 21st in Room 1 at noon. We hope to see you there!

Megyn Kelly Defends Chaz Bono From Transphobic Attacks

As was noted in a previous post, Dr. Keith Ablow has been up in arms over the notion of a transman on Dancing with the Stars, because he believes that impressionable young children will be encouraged to change genders. Fox News' own Megyn Kelly, however, grills Dr. Ablow on his anti-transgender views which she deems irrational and hateful. Kelly rightfully declares that sex reassignment surgery is not some fad which children will seek to emulate, even quoting John M. Oldham, President of the American Psychiatric Association, who said recently that there is "no evidence that viewing a television game show with a transgender contestant would induce Gender Identity Disorder in young people."

Check out the video of the interview here.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Rep. Sally Kern Says Gays Are Worse Than Terrorists

Rep. Sally Kern (R-OK) stated during a radio talk show appearance with Peter LaBarbera (head of the certified hate group Americans for Truth About Homosexuality) that gays and gay sex are greater threats to the safety of America than terrorism:

"You know if you just look at it in practical terms, which has destroyed and ended the life of more people? Terrorism attack here in America or HIV/​AIDS? In the last twenty years, fifteen to twenty years, we’ve had maybe three terrorist attacks on our soil with a little over 5,000 people regrettably losing their lives. In the same time frame, there have been hundreds of thousands who have died because of having AIDS. So which one’s the biggest threat? And you know, every day our young people, adults too, but especially our young people, are bombarded at school, in movies, in music, on TV, in the mall, in magazines, they’re bombarded with ‘homosexuality is normal and natural.’ It’s something they have to deal with every day. Fortunately we don’t have to deal with a terrorist attack every day, and that’s what I mean.


It’s more dangerous, and yes I think that it’s also more dangerous because it will tear down the moral fiber of this nation. We were founded as a nation upon the principles of religion and morality, if we take those out from under our society we will lose what has made us a great nation, we will no longer be a virtuous people, which we see happening already. And without virtue this nation will not survive."

This, however, is hardly surprising given that Rep. Kern has used such inflammatory rhetoric in the past.

Tennessee Students Fight to Have Gay Straight Alliance

Students at Sequoyah High School in Madisonville, TN believe that a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) would be very important at their school. Nathan Carroll, a senior at the school, says he has been bullied and harassed for being gay most of his life and that at SQHS anti-gay remarks such as "God hates gays" are commonplace. Yet the children who have been trying to establish a GSA have been threatened with suspension if they continue trying to get support for it.

Article and video here.

Friday, September 9, 2011

NOM Targets Orthodox Jews in NY Special Election

Following the passage of same-sex marriage in New York, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) vowed to make examples of the politicians who supported the bill. On September 13th there will be a special election to fill the seat left by former Congressman Anthony Weiner, and the race is between NOM-backed Bob Turner and marriage equality supporter David Weprin. So far, NOM pledged to spend up to $75,000 in an effort to defeat Weprin and has begun targeting members of the Orthodox Jewish community with ads and postcards such as the one above. Weprin, of course, is merely the first of several politicians NOM is targeting in the Empire State.

More of NOM's mailers can be viewed here.

Rep. James Forrester Calls Gays "Unhealthy"

Rep. James Forrester (R-NC), the primary sponsor of an amendment to the North Carolina constitution which would prohibit same-sex marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships, recently gave an anti-gay speech at a town hall meeting in which he claimed that gays are "unhealthy" and have shorter lifespans than heterosexuals:

"At least 20 years is taken off a homosexual's life, if they practice homosexuality, due to the increased death rate from AIDS, and hepatitis, and all of the other related factors to that. That doesn't seem to discourage them from practicing this unhealthy lifestyle. I'm trying to talk with them. And I've got a few homosexual patients, and I treat them just the same as anybody else. I love them. Perhaps even more, because I know they're going to die at least 20 years earlier. We need to reach out to them and try to get them to change their lifestyle back to the normal lifestyle which we can accept. It's a new day in Raleigh. This could really make a mark on society as we know it."

However, in spite of the audience giving Forrester a standing ovation and his assurances that his marriage amendment will pass, 57% of North Carolinians support same-sex marriage or civil unions according to a recent Elon University Poll.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Dr. Keith Ablow Says Watching Chaz Bono on Television Harms Children

Fox News pundit Dr. Keith Ablow, who recently penned an article urging parents to prohibit their children from watching Dancing with the Stars contestant Chaz Bono, appeared on Fox Business' America's Nightly Scoreboard to proclaim that seeing a transman on television will cause kids to question and change their gender:

"This tour, this 'fame tour' of Chaz Bono, promoting transgenderism as if it's a civil right. There are a lot of kids who will be watching. Look. Kids go through phases. Adolescents. There may be tomboys watching who are girls. They don't really need to be encouraged to say 'hey wait what a second.' Maybe I'm not just a tomboy. Maybe I'm a boy!....This is a guy who has had a terrible run of things. An incredibly tortuous path and it's not over. So I don't like the idea that you'd suggest to adolescents and young people a surgical remedy at the plastic surgeon's office for a psychiatric condition!"

U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke Honors Homophobic Artist

At the recent “Reggae Rhythm and Blues Festival”, Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) presented reggae singer Beenie Man with an award and welcomed him to the U.S., calling him an "outstanding performer" and saying he "made all Jamaicans proud." Beenie Man, like fellow murder musician Buju Banton, is well-known for his intensely homophobic views and song lyrics. From the "Dancehall Dossier":

"Han Up Deh":
Han chi chi gal wid a long piece of rope
[Hang lesbians with a long piece of rope]

I'm dreaming of a new Jamaica, come to execute all the gays

"Batty Man Fi Dead" [Queers Must Be Killed]:
All batty men fi dead!
[All faggots must be killed!]
From you f--- batty den a coppa and lead
[If you f--- ass, then you get copper and lead [bullets]]
Nuh man nuh fi have a another man in a him bed.
[No man must have another man in his bed.]

"Roll Deep":
Roll deep motherf-----, kill p-----sucker
[P---- -sucker: a lesbian.]
Tek a Bazooka and kill batty-f---er
[Take a bazooka and kill bum-f---ers [gay men]]

Beenie Man remains unapologetic for his violent, anti-LGBT song lyrics. You can watch the video of the award presentation here:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Male Partner of Slain Mississippi Man Cannot Join in Wrongful Death Suit

On June 26th, 2011, a black auto plant worker in Jackson, Mississippi was brutally murdered by a group of white teenagers. The perpetrators, apparently on the prowl looking for a black person to hurt, spotted 48-year-old James Craig Anderson standing in a parking lot next to his car. The group proceeded to viciously beat Anderson, while yelling "White Power!" and calling him a "nigger." The teens then got into their Ford F250 pickup truck and drove it over Anderson, instantly killing him. Now, the victim's family has filed a wrongful-death suit against the group of teens the police say is responsible. However, one family member cannot join the suit: James Bradfield, Anderson's partner of 17 years. According to Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center, under Mississippi law "same-sex partners have no claim in civil actions like this."

CNN article on the murder:

New York Times article concerning the wrongful-death suit:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

10 Anti-Gay Myths Debunked

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a prominent civil rights organization, thoroughly debunks ten of the most pernicious anti-gay myths used by the far-right, including the notions that homosexuals molest children at higher rates than heterosexuals, that no one is born homosexual and that people who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual were often abused as children. Certainly worth reading:

Three Men Executed for Sodomy in Iran

On September 4th, six men were hanged in Iran's Karoun prison, three of whom were convicted of sodomy. According to human rights groups, Iranian authorities often try to prevent international controversy by claiming those who are executed for homosexual relations are actually being executed for rape. In this case, the men in question were found to have violated articles 108 and 110 of the Iranian Islamic penal code. The text of both articles makes it clear that the executions were indeed for homosexuality:

Article 108: "Sodomy (or Lavat) is sexual intercourse between men"

Article 110: "Punishment for sodomy is killing; the Sharia judge decides on how to carry out the killing"

Full story at Iran Human Rights:

Monday, September 5, 2011

New Study: Anti-Gay Prejudice Increases Health Risks for Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals

A new study by the Williams Institute suggests that lesbians, gays and bisexuals have an increased risk of physical health problems as a result of prejudice-related stress. According to the senior author of the report, Dr. Ilan H. Meyer, the study shows that "stigma and prejudice have a great toll on the health of LGB people. Prejudice-related life events are more damaging to the physical health of lesbians, gay men and bisexuals than any other kind of stressful life event." Dr. David M. Frost states that the findings demonstrate "a clear need for interventions and policy change to reduce the stigma surrounded sexual minorities that is still prevalent in society."


Anti-Gay Hysteria in Ghana

It was only two months ago that a Ghanaian minister, Paul Evans Aidoo, began urging the citizens of Ghana to report suspected homosexuals to the police in an effort to "get rid of these people in the society." In August, the Presbyterian Church of Ghana began stepping up efforts to "cure" homosexuals through the pseudo-science of reparative therapy. Sam P. Yalley, former Ghana Deputy Minister, has recently compared homosexuality to genocide, saying:

"Genocide results in the extermination of the human race and if you expand the meaning of homosexuality to mean that a man cannot have a child with another man then it means that that practice would lead to the extermination of mankind and therefore for me if I am to charge anybody apart from having unnatural carnal knowledge, I would also charge him with genocide and see how he can get out of that situation. If you are a man and you are having carnal knowledge with a man how are you going to have a child?"

Now, GhanaWeb is reporting an unprecedented anti-gay propaganda campaign, with prominent religious leaders calling gays "unbiblical, un-African, abnormal and filthy" and a Ghanaian legislator saying that gays could legally be lynched just like robbers. If this trend continues, Ghana could become the next Uganda for the LGBT community.

"Paul Evans Aidoo's Ghana gay spy call 'promotes hatred'":
"Ghanaian Church Aims to Pray Away the Gay":
"Ghana: Homosexuals Commit Genocide By Having Sex And Must Be Arrested":
"Ghana’s Growing Gay Pride Faces Evangelical Backlash":

Rep. Duncan Hunter Attempts to Obstruct DADT Repeal

In yet another effort to hinder the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) has drafted a bill which would protect troops who openly express anti-gay views. The text of the bill, known as the "Don't Pressure Me!" bill, is as follows:

To amend Public Law 111-321 (Dont’ Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010) to require that… members of the Armed Forces are not pressured to approve of another person’s sexual conduct if that sexual conduct is contrary to the personal principles of the members.

Yet while this amendment would certainly have a negative effect on unit cohesion, The Army Times notes that it probably will not pass: "Hunter has tried several times to block or undermine repeal of the ban on open service by gays but has been blocked at every step by the Senate’s refusal to take up any legislation modifying the repeal law."

Think Progress article on the bill here:

Army Times article here:

Sunday, September 4, 2011

California Senate Passes Anti-Bullying Law

Seth's Law, named for a 13-year-old California student who hung himself in his backyard after bullies targeted him for being gay, has passed the CA state senate and is expected to be signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. Seth's Law will "make schools provide bullying complaint forms on their websites, give schools a timeline to investigate and resolve complaints and have them post policies throughout campuses."

Full story here:

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Uganda’s Family Life Network Calls for Passage of Anti-Homosexuality Bill

As Warren Throckmorton reports, Stephen Langa of the Family Life Network has launched the "Pass the Bill Now Campaign", urging the Ugandan parliament to approve the draconian anti-homosexuality law which would, among other things, make homosexuality a capital offense. Langa, who organized the 2009 Kampala conference attended by Scott Lively and other anti-gay evangelicals, stated in a press release that as we speak "[t]he molestation, recruitment and defilement of our children is still going on unabated and with impunity."

You can view the press release in its entirety at Warren Throckmorton's blog:

Friday, September 2, 2011

Welcome Oliver Mushtare, 1L, to the WNE OUTlaw Blawg

Please welcome Oliver Mushtare, 1L, to the WNE OUTlaw Blawg! As evidenced by the last three posts, Oliver is off to a great start. We are so excited to have him join OUTlaw and help us keep the blawg up-to-date with LGBTQ legal news for the WNE Law community.

You can reach Oliver or any of the other members of OUTlaw by emailing us at outlaw.wnec@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

Piers Morgan Questions Rick Santorum Over Anti-Gay Rhetoric

In an interview with former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum, Piers Morgan asks him about his critical views on homosexuality:

Five Things ‘Nightline’ Could Have Done Better In Its Special On Transgender Children

Nightline recently ran a special on transgender children, and Think Progress provides a list of five things they could have done better. The link also has the entire special if you feel inclined to watch it:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hung Jury in Brandon McInerney's Murder Trial

A jury was unable to reach a verdict in the murder trial of 17-year-old Brandon McInerney, who is accused of shooting his fellow classmate, Lawrence King, for being gay. McInerney's defense attorneys appear to be using the notorious "gay panic defense", claiming that he shot King twice in the back of the head at point-blank range because King constantly flirted with him.

Election Results

Congratulations to OUTlaw's 2011-2012 Executive Board and Representatives!

President: Erika Scibelli, 3L
Vice President: Caitlin Childs, 3L
Treasurer: Shiona Heru, 2L
Secretary: Chris Burnett, 1L
SBA Liaison: James Ackley, 1L
3L Representative: Aimee Lemay-Hammond
2L Representative: Amber Gould
1L Representative, Section 1: Josh Goldberg
1L Representatives, Section 2: Kaley Lentini, Oliver Mushtare
Social Chair: Jackie Bouchereau, 3L

Sunday, August 28, 2011

UPDATE: First OUTlaw meeting & 2011-2012 Elections

The first OUTlaw meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 1st at 12:15 in room 1. We will also be holding elections that day. 1Ls are welcome to participate in the election and/or run for a position. Please also add WNE OUTlaw on your TWEN page to receive email updates.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

WNE Law to Participate in Williams Institute National Moot Court Competition

WNE Law has been approved to participate in the Williams Insitute National Moot Court Competition on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law! All interested students must participate in the 2-credit Appellate Moot Court Tutorial class in the fall taught by Professors Orlen and Kaiser. The class culminates in a moot court competition through which members of our team will be selected. Students who participate in the Moot Court Tutorial are not guaranteed a spot on the Williams Institute Team--they will compete for a slot against other students who have indicated an interest in the Williams Institute team, but everyone who participates will get 2 credits.

Professors Flynn and Shay will co-coach the team and Professor Flynn will travel with the team to L.A in the spring.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

CT Senate Approves Trans Rights Bill

The Connecticut Senate approved a bill on Friday, June 4th  that will extend equal protection to transgender individuals. Governor Malloy said that he will sign the bill. WNE Law Professor Jennifer Levi worked tirelessly on the bill along with a larger coalition in Connecticut. This is exciting news for Transgender residents of Connecticut.

Read Professor Levi's narrative from the night of June 4th here or at GLAD.org. An article is also available from the Hartford Courant here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Uganda's "Kill the Gays" Bill may go for a vote tomorrow

A bill that would make homosexual conduct punishable by death in Uganda may be voted on tomorrow. This bill has been lurking out there for a while but had recently gone just below the U.S's political radar. Gay Politics reports that Congressman Barney Frank issued a statement about the bill.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Petition in Support of MA Transgender Equal Rights Bill

Attention Massachusetts Lawyers and Law Students!

Please take a moment to follow the link and sign a petition in support of MA's Transgender Equal Rights Bill. It takes just a moment!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Professor Levi testifies in Maine

On Tuesday, April 12, 2011, Professor Jennifer Levi testified before the Maine Judiciary Committee in opposition to a bill that would remove certain protections for transgender people that have been in place for the last five years through the Maine Human Rights Act. This is the second time this month that Professor Levi, the director of GLAD's Transgender Rights Project, has testified before state legislatures regarding transgender rights. Earlier this month, the testified before Connecticut's Joint Committee on Judiciary in support of a bill that would add "gender identity" to CT's non-discrimnation law.

Read Professor Levi's testimony here.

Watch video of the testimony here. (Starts at 47 minutes.)

Read The Advocate's coverage in Maine here.

Hate Crime charges in Tyler Clementi Suicide

Tyler Clementi's former roommate is facing hate crime charges following Clementi's suicide. Clementi took his life after he was recorded having a sexual encounter with another man and the encounter was made available on the internet.

The article from the New York Times is available here.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Arkansas Supreme Court Strikes Down "Gay Adoption" Ban

Read the full article from The Advocate.

WNEC Law Trustee nominated to be first openly gay member of Massachusetts SJC

WNEC Law trustee Barbara A. Lenk was nominated on Monday by Governor Deval Patrick to serve on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the highest court in the Commonwealth. Justice Lenk will be the first openly gay member to serve the SJC.

Read the full New York Times article here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Professor Levi reports on her experience testifying in CT

WNEC Law's Professor Levi reports for GLAD on an afternoon spent testifying in from of the Connecticut Legislature's Judiciary Committee in favor of the inclusion of the term "gender identity/expression" in CT's non-discrimination laws.

Read the article here.