Beyond the Carolinas
HRC names strategist as new prez
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Chad H. Griffin has been named the next president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization. He is a national communications and policy strategist who is widely credited for being the mastermind behind the federal lawsuit to overturn California’s Proposition 8, which has now been ruled unconstitutional by two federal courts.
Griffin will assume his new duties on June 11. Current HRC President Joe Solmonese will continue to lead the organization until that time.
The founding partner of strategic communications and campaign firm, Griffin|Schein, Griffin has taken on entrenched, well-financed interests like Big Tobacco, Big Oil and the far right, and shaped national policy debates around equal rights, clean energy, universal health care, stem cell research and early childhood education.
He is a founding board member of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the sole sponsor of the Prop. 8 lawsuit. He is personally responsible for recruiting the legal dream team of Theodore Olson and David Boies to successfully argue the case. Griffin will remain on the board of directors of AFER
Polls find marriage support
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — A new Field Poll shows that support for same-sex marriage in California has increased dramatically with 59 percent of residents favoring same-sex unions to 34 percent who do not. The poll showed that the largest increase in approval since 2010 came from middle-aged voters, nonpartisans and Republicans. Other significant gains in support were from Catholics, Latinos and older voters.
“With 59 percent of Californians now in favor of marriage equality, including nearly half of those over 60, the writing is on the wall,” said Rick Jacobs, chair and founder of the Courage Campaign, a California-based progressive organization. “The public clearly believes that gay and lesbian couples are no different than their straight counterparts. We love, have families and build community as do all caring people.
Jacobs’ view is supported by a new Quinnipiac Poll that reveals 57 percent of New Jersey voters now support allowing same-sex couples to marry
Harvard must right a wrong
BOSTON, Mass. — Dozens of students, faculty, and staff from the Harvard community rallied on campus Feb. 29 to call on the university to award honorary degrees to seven students who were persecuted and expelled in 1920. The students were victimized by a university-sanctioned body known as the “Secret Court” that targeted students who were gay or perceived to be gay.
At the rally, which took place outside an event hosted by Lady Gaga and Oprah Winfrey to launch the Born This Way Foundation, demonstrators presented more than 5,000 petition signatures to Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust, urging her to award these expelled students honorary degrees.
The “Secret Court” was initially exposed in 2002 after a reporter from Harvard’s student newspaper, The Crimson, found archived materials about the Court’s actions. Though the university has apologized for the Court’s targeting of students who were gay or perceived to be gay, none of the students persecuted or expelled have been awarded honorary degrees, despite the fact that several were very close to graduating
Broadway stars, Bakker to be honored
NEW YORK, N.Y. — PFLAG National will honor Broadway stars Audra McDonald (“The Gershwins,” “Porgy And Bess,” Naomi on the TV drama “Private Practice”) and Will Swenson (“Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert,” “Hair”) with the 2012 Straight for Equality in Entertainment Award at the Fourth Annual Straight for Equality Awards Gala. In addition, pastor Jay Bakker will receive the inaugural Straight for Equality in Faith Award at the April 2 event.
McDonald and Swenson, who became engaged on New Year’s Eve 2012, are longtime straight allies of the LGBT community and both sit on the advisory board of the pro-marriage equality organization Broadway Impact.
Bakker has taken a public stand on the importance of creating welcoming communities of faith for LGBT people and supports marriage equality. In his book, “Fall to Grace: A Revolution of God, Self and Society,” he talks about his own family’s “fall from grace,” and how it colored his personal understanding of the need for God to be available to all people.
Queer encyclopedia launched
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — WikiQueer, a non-profit, free-content online encyclopedia and resource project, has officially launched. WikiQueer is based on an openly editable model, specifically for and by the LGBT, questioning and ally communities.
In a manner similar to Wikipedia, WikiQueer is written collaboratively by volunteers. Anyone with internet access can write and make changes to WikiQueer articles — except in certain cases where editing is restricted to prevent disruption or vandalism. However, unlike Wikipedia, contributors can also include dynamic content from existing online LGBT and wiki projects, content geared toward activism, and information on the LGBT communities that might not presently meet Wikipedia’s notability standards.
While development of the website dates back to 2010, WikiQueer has been in a soft launch since July 25, 2011 preparing for the official launch. WikiQueer can be accessed online at www.wikiqueer.org.