LGBT and out activist Stuart Milk, nephew of Harvey Milk, pulls the cord on the
Harvey Milk St. sign during its unveiling.
Photo Credit: San Diego Pride

City unveils Harvey Milk St.

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — On May 8, the San Diego City Council unanimously voted to give final approval to rename a street after slain LGBT civil rights hero Harvey Milk. A celebratory unveiling of the new street was held May 22, Milk’s birthday, making San Diego the first city in the nation to have a street named for the groundbreaking political leader and activist.

“A year ago, a group of community leaders came together around the notion the time had come to honor an LGBT civil rights leader in San Diego the same way we have given honor to other civil rights leaders such as Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King, Jr,” said Dwayne Crenshaw, San Diego LGBT Pride executive director, following the historic vote. “Today marks a symbolic and significant moment in the movement forward towards the American value of equality.”

Milk was shot to death by his fellow San Francisco Board of Supervisors member Dan White in 1978. He would have turned 82 this year.

— David Stout

Polls: Marriage proponents up

BALTIMORE, Md. — A new Public Policy Poll of Maryland voters shows a decisive majority (57 percent) would vote in favor of same-sex marriage if it’s on the ballot this Fall, while 37 percent would vote against. This is a 12-point swing in support from two months earlier and is due to growing African-American support since both President Barack Obama and the NAACP have endorsed same-sex marriage.

“Things are moving in Maryland,” said Josh Levin, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality. “We’re approaching a supermajority who want to uphold the state’s new marriage law. The message of stronger families and greater fairness is resonating, and we’re confident Maryland will be the first state to win a ballot measure on marriage equality and religious freedom.”

The Maryland data are in line with recent national polls reflecting majority African-American support. An ABC News/Washington Post poll showed 59 percent of African-Americans now express support for same-sex marriage — an 18-point jump from polls taken before the President’s announcement.

— David Stout

Wahls supports Scout leader

ORLANDO, Fla. — On May 30, Eagle Scout Zach Wahls delivered a petition with more than 275,000 signatures to the National Annual Meeting of the Boy Scouts of America, calling on the Boy Scouts to reinstate Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian den leader in Ohio who was removed from her position because of her sexual orientation, and to end their long-held policy barring openly gay scouts and scout leaders.

After delivering the signatures, Wahls met briefly with Deron Smith, public relation director with the Boy Scouts of America’s national office. Afterward he noted, “While today’s meeting was productive and thoughtful, the delivery of these petitions marks the beginning of this journey, not the end. I thought our dialogue today was an honest one, and I’m looking forward to continuing the conversation in the months ahead.”

Wahls is the author of “My Two Moms” and the star of an online video in support of his two gay moms that went massively viral last year.

— David Stout

ExxonMobil shareholder vote fails

DALLAS, Texas — A May 30 vote by ExxonMobil shareholders failed to garner enough support to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the company’s Equal Employment Opportunity policy. Following the vote, ExxonMobil remains the only Fortune 10 company without these protections. On the Human Rights Campaign’s latest Corporate Equality Index, ExxonMobil received a score of -25. In contrast, oil and gas companies such as Chevron, BP, Shell, and Spectra received scores of 85 or higher.

Before Mobil Corp. was acquired by Exxon Corp., Mobil prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation and offered health benefits to domestic partners of its employees. After the 1999 merger, Exxon removed the non-discrimination policy and the domestic partner benefits program was closed to new employees.

In response to protests at the 2010 shareholders meeting, David Rosenthal, ExxonMobil’s vice president of Investor Relations and secretary, issued a letter making it clear that the company will only institute LGBT protections if required by federal law.

— David Stout

SEIU votes for trans inclusion

DENVER, Colo. — The member-delegates of the 2.1 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU) passed a resolution May 29 at their 2012 national conference here which states that SEIU local groups and members will bargain for transgender-inclusive health care coverage as part of their contract negotiations with businesses and employers.

Historically, transgender people have been categorically denied health care coverage for medically necessary treatment, irrespective of whether treatment is related to sex reassignment/affirmation. Until recently, nearly all U.S. employer-based health insurance plans contained “transgender exclusions” that limited insurance coverage for this population.

“This is a tremendous step forward in the fight for workplace equality for LGBT people,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Our friends at SEIU recognize that all workers should be treated equitably, and that includes being free from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

— David Stout

Lawsuits seek marriage rights

CHICAGO, Ill. — Lambda Legal and the ACLU have filed separate, coordinated lawsuits on behalf of 25 couples respectively challenging the constitutionality of an Illinois law that denies gay and lesbian partners the freedom to marry and limits them instead to civil union status. The filings come one year after Illinois implemented civil unions for same-sex couples and just weeks after President Barack Obama from Illinois endorsed same-sex marriage.

The lead plaintiffs in the ACLU case are Tanya Lazaro and Elizabeth “Liz” Matos of Chicago’s Northwest Side. Lazaro is a Chicago Police Department detective and Matos works as a system analyst for a trading firm in Chicago. They have a two-year-old girl, Jaiden, and just recently had a second girl, Sophia.

“It is remarkable that Tanya risks her life each day to go out into the City of Chicago and keep people safe, but the law does not recognize fully the family that we have built together,” said Matos.

— David Stout

Producer seeks subjects

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Casting director and producer Charisse Simonian is seeking LGBT families for a docu-series and hopes to find a family in North Carolina.

Her Big Fish Casting company is on the lookout for gay and lesbian couples and parents who have experience with the “ups and downs of parenthood and marriage or partnership.”

Subjects should be ready to show of their “mad parenting skills.” Couples who are currently attempting to marry or have another child, raising tweens and teens and “losing one’s mind,” feeling at odds with family, clergy, neighbors, schools or employers and are fighting for change, experiencing wear down with the mix of parenting and the daily grind with the relationship at a crossroads, heading up the PTA or room parent or a soccer mom or dad and overwhelming ready to show the world that life is just like everyone else (challenges, schedules, bickering and dilemmas).

Interested parties should submit a brief paragraph about one’s self, partner and kids, in addition to why the couple’s reason to be chosen by the project heads. Also, include a recent photograph and contact information. Email to Deadline is June 15.

Simonian won an Emmy in 2006 for “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” Her credits range from shows like ABC’s “Shark Tank,” USA Network’s “It’s My Life” and more.

LGBT-friendly executive producer Mark Burnett said, “This has been the most pleasant, most laid-back, low-maintenance casting experience of my life.”

For more information, visit

— Lainey Millen