LGBT orgs address Martin killing

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A coalition of 29 national LGBT rights organizations issued an open letter April 2 declaring the killing of 17-year-old African-American Trayvon Martin a “national call to action” urging local and federal authorities to find answers in the case and demanding justice be served.

The open letter states, in part, “The tragic killing of Trayvon Martin is a national call to action. … Many in our community have been targets of bigotry and bias. We have a great deal of experience grappling with the role bias plays in violent crimes against our communities. We well know the stories of young people targeted for violence just because of who they are: Rashawn Brazell, Lawrence King, Ali Forney, Deoni Jones, Brandon White, Matthew Shepard, Angie Zapata, Sean Kennedy and countless others.

“Trayvon’s killing is a wakeup call to the enduring cancer of racism and racial profiling. The pain his family continues to endure transcends communities and unites us all. Every person, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, must be able to walk the streets without fear for their safety.”

— David Stout

Early bird registration nears

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Camp Pride will be held from July 17-22 at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.
This annual event features top leaders and speakers who gather with students for student leadership development, campus organizing techniques, conflict management, social justice advocacy, diversity education and more.
Zach Wahls, the YouTube “two moms” sensation and young adult leader, will be hosted by Camp Pride, as well as being presented with the National Voice & Action Award for his stand on marriage equality.
Early registration at $815 runs through May 1. Afterward the price goes up to $945. First-priority deadline for scholarship application is April 16.
For more information, visit campuspride/org/camppride/.

— Lainey Millen

Boehner chided for appointment

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. House Speaker John Boehner drew fire for his March 27 appointment of Robert George, co-founder and chairman emeritus of the National Organization for Marriage, to the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom, which, according to the Commission’s chairman, addresses “the challenges of religious extremism, intolerance, and repression throughout the world.”

The appointment was made on the same day the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released internal documents detailing NOM’s divisive, racially-charged strategy to stop marriage equality.

“For the Speaker to appoint someone who embodies NOM’s deep seated anti-gay animus is the wrong thing to do,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “This appointment is counter to the Commission’s stated mission because George represents a narrow and exclusionary ideology. Unfortunately, Rep. Boehner has further aligned himself with the extremist wing of his party.”

— David Stout

Bill targets condom convictions

NEW YORK, N.Y. — State legislators are being urged to reconsider and support the passage of bill S323/A1008, a measure that would prevent police and prosecutors from using possession of condoms as evidence of prostitution and prostitution-related offenses. Advocates say passing this bill is a critical step toward protecting the health of communities disproportionately impacted by HIV, including gay and bisexual men, transgender people, at-risk youth and sex workers.

“It makes no sense that the New York City Department of Public Health has distributed over 200 million free condoms as a matter of good public health practice, and then the NYPD and prosecutors try to use them as evidence of prostitution,” said Hayley Gorenberg (pictured), Lambda Legal Deputy Legal Director. “When law enforcement sends a message not to carry condoms, it puts the health and safety of New Yorkers in jeopardy. Now it is the legislature’s responsibility to take action to protect the public.”

S323/A1008 is one of the more than 300 bills the New York state legislature has filed away to the Rules Committee preventing them from being voted on.

— David Stout

Black, Latino marriage support up

NEW YORK, N.Y. — GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign have released statistics showing broad support for LGBT people among the African-American, as well as the Latino and Hispanic communities. The statistics were compiled after HRC released internal documents from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) revealing the group’s campaign to foster hostility between the LGBT community and the Black and Latino communities.

After the documents were released, former NAACP Chairman Julian Bond called NOM’s tactics “reprehensible.” Recent studies show that NOM’s plan has not been successful, with a majority of African-American, Latino and Hispanic people supporting LGBT Americans.

A 2010 Bendixen & Amandi International poll found 74 percent of Latinos support marriage equality or other forms of legal recognition for gay and lesbian couples. Similarly, a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released in March 2012 showed support for marriage equality among African-Americans at 50 percent. A Field Poll of California voters released in February 2012 found that 53 percent of Latino and 50 percent of African-American respondents approved of same-sex marriage.

— David Stout

Trans beauty contestant OK’d

TORONTO, Canada — After initially being selected as one of 65 finalists for the Miss Universe Canada competition, and subsequently deemed ineligible because she is transgender, at press time Jenna Talackova of Vancouver is back in the May 19 contest.

Following the reinstatement pageant officials said in a statement, “The Miss Universe Organization will allow Jenna Talackova (pictured) to compete in the 2012 Miss Universe Canada pageant provided she meets the legal gender recognition requirements of Canada, and the standards established by other international competitions.” Talackova’s birth certificate, driver’s license and passport all reflect the fact that she is female.

“The Miss Universe Organization made the right decision and has taken an important first step,” said GLAAD spokesperson Herndon Graddick. “Now, GLAAD urges the Organization to include all women and use this incident to speak out in support of the transgender community.”

— David Stout