Meeting targets gay prison issues
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — The California Senate Committee on Public Safety held an informational meeting Dec. 11 to examine issues affecting LGBT people in California’s prison system. The meeting focused on the problems faced by LGBT people who are incarcerated, including harassment and abuse, unequal access to healthcare, and difficulties faced when re-entering society. “I am concerned by reports that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender prisoners are being misclassified by gender in our state’s prisons, which places them at risk for violence and abuse,” said Sen. Gloria Romero (D-East Los Angeles), who chaired the meeting.
Gay support sinks Right leader
WASHINGTON, D.C. — National gay leaders reacted to the Dec. 11 resignation of Rev. Richard Cizik as vice president of governmental affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). Cizik was asked to step down after he voiced support for civil unions for same-sex couples during an interview on National Public Radio. Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, director of the Institute for Welcoming Resources and Faith Work at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said, “Richard Cizik’s resignation because of his comments on civil unions makes it clear that, although the NAE has sought to distance itself from the homophobic and hateful tradition of much of the radical rights’ version of Christianity, there yet remains much work to do before the NAE can rightly claim Jesus’ prophetic justice for all.”
Iowa high court mulls marriage
DES MOINES, Iowa — On Dec. 9 the Iowa Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Lambda Legal’s case on behalf of six Iowa same-sex couples and their families who are seeking the right to marry. “We put our best case forward, and hope that the Court breathes life into the Iowa Constitution’s promise of equality,” said Camilla Taylor, Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Midwest Regional Office in Chicago and chief architect of the lawsuit.
Lambda Legal initially filed a lawsuit with the Polk County Court in December 2005 on behalf of the plaintiff couples. In August of 2007 the court ruled that denying marriage to same-sex partners is unconstitutional.
Gay-themed ad campaign lauded
NEW YORK, N.Y. — The Advertising Council has awarded advertising agency ArnoldNYC its Gold Bell Award for Creative Excellence for developing the “Think Before You Speak” campaign with GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. The campaign topped more than 50 Ad Council campaigns from the past year.
“Think Before You Speak,” the Ad Council’s first LGBT-themed campaign, targets anti-LGBT language among teenagers. It features humorous TV public service announcements starring singer Hilary Duff and comedian Wanda Sykes interrupting teenagers who use the term “that’s so gay.” The campaign is supported by the interactive website ThinkB4Youspeak.com.
Domestic partner registry passed
PHOENIX, Ariz. — The Phoenix City Council and mayor voted Dec. 17 to enact a domestic partner registry for city residents. The move will permit unmarried couples to register as domestic partners and receive hospital visitation rights. The registry, which will become effective Feb. 9, 2009, will be available to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.
“Today, the city of Phoenix has begun to recognize what we have known for a long time — that our relationships are just as true, meaningful, and deserving of legal protections as anyone else’s,” said Linda Elliott, a city resident and member of the board of the Human Rights Campaign.
Study supports gay parenting
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Two new reports on the findings from the longest-running study ever conducted on American lesbian and gay families agree that children raised in lesbian-headed homes are as healthy and well-adjusted as children raised in heterosexual families. The findings from “The U.S.A. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study” were published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry and Journal of Lesbian Studies. Significantly, the 22-year study revealed that although parents’ sexual orientation doesn’t harm children, discrimination from society does. The researchers report that the adverse effects of anti-gay bias were substantially reduced when the parents, schools and communities encouraged an appreciation of diversity.
Gay man wins U.S. asylum
NEW YORK, N.Y. — Columbia Law School’s Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic has secured asylum for a gay, HIV-positive man who feared persecution if forced to return to the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) in West Africa. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued the grant of asylum. The asylee, age 32, arrived in the U.S. in January 2004. In his homeland, because of his sexual orientation he has been raped and beaten by military and militia members and was subjected to constant verbal and physical abuse by his neighbors, classmates and his own father. Law Clinic students spent several months filling out necessary forms to complete the asylum application.