News Notes: Beyond the Carolinas
U.S. military officially open
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that kept openly gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans from serving in the U.S. military officially ended Sept. 20 and according to Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, the national group that led the fight against the law, the repeal was welcomed with approximately 100 celebrations in all 50 states. SLDN’s official party was held in the nation’s capital while New York City’s gathering was hosted at the historic Stonewall Inn, birthplace of the modern gay rights movement.
Army Veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis observed, “Today marks the official end of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and is an historic milestone along the journey to achieving LGBT equality in America’s military. Thanks to veterans, active duty, leaders, allies and supporters everywhere, this is a monumental day for our service members and our nation. Indeed, we have taken a tremendous leap forward for LGBT equality in the military.”
In the Carolinas, celebrations were held in Charlotte, Davidson, Durham, Raleigh and Wilmington in N.C. and in Charleston and Columbia in S.C.
NCAA supports trans athletes
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The National Collegiate Athletic Association has approved an important policy that clarifies opportunities for transgender student athletes to participate on college athletic teams in accordance with their gender identity. The NCAA, which governs sports for more than 1,200 colleges and institutions, worked closely with the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ Sports Project and Griffin Educational Consulting to develop the policy. Under the policy:
• A transgender male student athlete who has a medical exception for testosterone hormone therapy may compete on a men’s team, but is no longer eligible to compete on a women’s team without changing the team status to a mixed team.
• A transgender female student athlete who has taken medication to suppress testosterone for a year may compete on a women’s team.
Transgender student athletes who are not undergoing hormone therapy remain eligible to play on teams based on the gender of their birth sex and may socially transition by dressing and using the appropriate pronouns that match their gender identity.
Gay nominee for U.S. Marshal
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Obama Administration has announced the nomination of the second openly gay U.S. Marshal in American history. Michael Hughes, an 18-year veteran of the U.S. Marshal Service, is nominated to serve as the U.S. Marshal for the District of Columbia. When confirmed by the Senate, Hughes will join Sharon Lubinski, who was confirmed at the end of 2009 as the U.S. Marshal for Minnesota.
Hughes’s candidacy was supported by the Human Rights Campaign, which sent a letter to the president urging him to nominate Hughes. He was also supported by Washington, D.C. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton.
As U.S. Marshal for the District of Columbia, Hughes will be the federal law enforcement officer in charge of protecting judges and court houses; transporting and managing prisoners; protecting witnesses; investigating fugitives; and serving court documents. The U.S. Marshal service is the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency, established in 1789.
DOMA repeal lands GOP sponsor
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has become the first Republican in the U.S. House to co-sponsor the Respect for Marriage Act, the bill to repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act that blocks federal recognition of legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples. Ros-Lehtinen represents Florida’s 18th congressional district, which covers most of Miami, her hometown.
The Respect for Marriage Act was introduced by Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York on March 16 of this year and a Senate version was introduced by Dianne Feinstein of California on the same day. President Barack Obama announced his support for the bill on July 19.
Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said, “Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen is a longstanding advocate for our equality and has shown today that respect for our community, and our marriages, is a mainstream and bipartisan principle. With the American people strongly supportive of DOMA repeal, we will continue to work with members of both parties to end this discrimination once and for all.”
Storyteller shares Southern heritage
CHICAGO — An African-American Hickory native, E. Patrick Johnson shares the stories of gay men who were born in the South in his one-man show, “Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South.”
The faces he shares range in ages from 19 to 93. He says that being black and queer in the South was largely undocumented. Most studies have been focused on urban areas and those in other areas of the country.
This show is based on the book he penned. It was published by University of North Carolina Press. He portrays all of the characters, including himself.
This “Vagina Monologue”-style presentation opened in Arlington, Va., in September and continues until Oct. 9 at the Signature @ The Ark, 2800 S. Stafford St.
Johnson is an African-American studies professor, as well as chair and director of graduate studies in the Department of Performance Studies at Northwestern University.
— Lainey Millen
Prop 8 trial video coming
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — On Sept. 19, U.S. District Court Chief Judge James Ware ordered the public release of the video recording of the historic trial in Perry v. Brown. In that trial, which took place in January 2010, two same-sex couples challenged Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that stripped the freedom to marry from same-sex couples in California. Following the trial, now-retired Chief District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled in August 2010 that Prop 8 is unconstitutional. That ruling has been on hold while the proponents of Prop 8 appeal Judge Walker’s ruling.
The Prop 8 proponents have fought to prevent the public from viewing the official video recording of the trial. The couples who are challenging Prop 8 filed a motion seeking to unseal the video recording and Chief Judge Ware heard the motion on Aug. 29. The City and County of San Francisco and Media Coalition members, including the Los Angeles Times, CNN, The New York Times, FOX News, NBC News, and The Associated Press, joined the plaintiffs in asking the court to release the videotape of the public trial.
In his ruling, Chief Judge Ware said that public access to trials and court records are “[f]oremost among the aspects of the federal judicial system that foster public confidence in the fairness and integrity of the process.” Judge Ware ordered that the video recordings be made public on Sept. 30, 2011.
Study: Aging issues for LGB Brits
LONDON, England — LGB people in the U.K. are far more likely to end up living alone and have less contact with family in later life than heterosexual people, according to research published by British gay rights group Stonewall. The study, Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual People in Later Life, raises significant questions for how Britain responds to the needs of its one million LGB citizens over the age of 55.
According to the report, older gay and bisexual men are around three times more likely to be single than heterosexual men. And, while almost nine in 10 heterosexual older people have children who may offer care and support in later life, the number is just over a quarter of gay and bisexual men and just under half of lesbian and bisexual women.
In addition, lesbian, gay and bisexual people are also half as likely to regularly see members of their biological family. Less than a quarter see family members at least once a week, compared with more than half of heterosexual people.