D.C. Council approves marriages

National News Notes

by David Stout  Associate Editor  editor2@goqnotes.com
Published: December 26, 2009 in National News Notes

Point scholarships available

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Point Foundation, the nation’s largest scholarship-granting organization for LGBT students of merit, has opened its 2010 application season. Students who will be enrolled in undergraduate or graduate programs for the 2010-11 school year are eligible to apply for the multi-year scholarships. Apply online at www.pointfoundation.org/apply.html by Feb. 12, 2010.

The rigorous selection process considers demonstrated academic excellence, leadership skills, community involvement and financial need. Particular attention is paid to students who have lost the financial and social support of their families and/or communities as a result of revealing their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

Current Point Scholars attend some of the nation’s foremost higher educational institutions and the average amount of annual support for each scholar is between $25,000-$33,000. Since its inception in 2001, Point Foundation has invested over $4.5 million in the education of outstanding LGBT students.

D.C. Council approves marriages

WASHINGTON, D.C. — By a margin of 11-2, the D.C. Council voted to give final approval to the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009. The Dec. 15 vote recognizing same-sex marriage was the second in two weeks for the Council, which approved the bill in an initial vote on Dec. 1 by the same margin. Since last July, D.C. law has recognized marriages by same-sex couples from other jurisdictions, including foreign countries.

The new legislation would permit same-sex couples to marry in the nation’s capital while ensuring that clergy and religious organizations would not be required to provide services, accommodations, facilities or goods for the solemnization of a same-sex marriage.

At press time, the legislation was on the desk of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, who has maintained that he will sign it. Since the U.S. House is not expected to intervene, the law will take effect at the conclusion of the Congressional review period, which lasts for 30 legislative days following the Mayor’s signature.

Opponents are challenging the decision in D.C. Superior Court despite the fact that last June, a Superior Court judge ruled that a similar proposed referendum prohibiting recognition of marriages by same-sex couples performed in other jurisdictions would violate the D.C. Human Rights Act.

Parker wins historic mayoral bid

HOUSTON, Texas — The fourth-largest city in America has an openly gay mayor after City Controller Annise Parker (pictured) was declared the winner of a Dec. 12 runoff election. Social conservatives fought bitterly against Parker’s election, but her endorsements from labor, police, women’s, gay rights and other groups as well as the daily Houston Chronicle newspaper carried the day.

Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which endorsed Parker, said this victory holds tremendous significance for the gay community. “This is a watershed moment in American politics. Annise was elected by fair-minded people from across the city because of her experience and competence, and we’re glad Houston soundly rejected the politics of division. This victory sends a clear signal that gays and lesbians are an integral part of American civic life, that we’re willing to lead, and that voters will respond to candidates who are open and honest about their lives.”

Parker, who now presides over the largest city to elect an openly gay mayor, observed, “This race was about the future of Houston, and whether we will face that future proud to be an open, welcoming and fair-minded city. Tonight Houstonians said yes to a future like that, and I am glad the Victory Fund helped make that happen.”

Trans workers protected in N.Y.

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. David A. Paterson has issued an executive order extending anti-discrimination policies for state employees to include gender identity. An executive order is the furthest extent to which any governor is able to exercise his or her executive power. Extending protections to private employees must be accomplished by the state legislature.

New York joins eight other states in which an executive order, administrative order or personnel regulation prohibits discrimination against municipal employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Twelve states and the District of Columbia prohibit full employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Nine more states prohibit employment discrimination based only on sexual orientation.

A fully inclusive version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act was introduced into both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate earlier this year. If approved, the measure would provide employment protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity to all workers in all 50 states.

Grammy nom sparks protest

NEW YORK, N.Y. — The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation is calling on community members and allies to sign its online petition denouncing the Grammy nomination for reggae singer Buju Banton’s album “Rasta Got Soul” and urging Recording Academy members to not support his nomination for Best Reggae Album. The petition can be found online at www.glaad.org/bujubantonpetition.

In his 1988 song “Boom Bye Bye,” Banton says “faggots have to die” and he will “shoot them in the head” or “burn them.” The 1993 song “Batty Rider” glorifies the shooting of gay men. In October 2009, Banton was quoted in news reports as declaring, “This is a fight, and as I said in one of my songs ‘there is no end to the war between me and faggot’ and it’s clear.”

“Buju Banton’s anti-gay lyrics and the climate of hatred they create are a threat to the safety of gay and transgender people everywhere,” said Jarrett Barrios, GLAAD president. “In a climate of increased anti-gay violence in this country and Banton’s home country of Jamaica, it is deeply disappointing that the Recording Academy would choose to laud the work of a singer who has advocated violence against the gay community.”