Black gay man wins Council seat
FALLS CHURCH, Va. — While most political watchers were following the race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in N.C. and Indiana, Lawrence Webb (pictured) quietly made history as he became the state’s first openly LGBT African-American elected to public office. In his first bid for elected office, Webb won a seat on the Falls Church City Council by a margin of 39 votes. The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund led an intense get-out-the-vote effort in the race.
Webb is currently the assistant dean of admissions at the University of Mary Washington. In his free time, he is an active member of the Falls Church City Democratic Committee, the City of Falls Church Parks and Recreation Commission and Equality Fairfax. Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner appointed Lawrence to the board of the Department of Correctional Education.
“I hope my election opens the door for others to get involved in public service,” Webb said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or black or both. What matters is your dedication to building a better community, and your willingness to work hard at it. I’m glad the people of Falls Church agree.”
Law prohibits DP benefits
LANSING, Mich. — LGBT leaders from coast to coast denounced the Michigan Supreme Court’s May 7 ruling which held that local governments and state universities cannot offer health insurance to the same-sex partners of their employees. The court ruled 5–2 that Michigan’s 2004 ban against same-sex marriage nullifies domestic partner policies affecting employees with same-sex partners at universities and other public-sector employers.
Dave Noble, director of public policy and government affairs at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said, “Michigan families, like families everywhere, desperately need health care and other basic benefits that domestic partnerships confer, especially in these tough economic times. It is shameful that many families will now be placed at risk of not being covered by health insurance that they obviously depend on. [This] ruling is tragic.”
Many employers have rewritten their policies in an effort to circumvent the ban — extending benefits to “qualified adults” who have lived together for a certain amount of time, are unmarried, share finances and are not related.
Trans guide for LGBT groups
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force have released a joint publication titled “Opening the Door to the Inclusion of Transgender People: The Nine Keys to Making Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Organizations Fully Transgender-Inclusive.”
“Opening the Door,” which is based on years of personal and professional experience within LGBT organizations, makes the case for full inclusion at every level of an organization. It examines the need for inclusion of gender-identity and expression in policies, programs, legislative stances and public positions, and explores critical issues such as understanding the transgender experience, how to address staffing issues, dealing with prejudice and ways to further outreach. LGBT leaders discuss real-life experiences with transgender inclusion throughout the guide.
“Transgender inclusion has been an important issue in the LGBT community, particularly in the past year. Yet, many organizations struggle with how exactly to become fully transgender-inclusive. We are excited to offer this free new resource,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of NCTE. The publication can be downloaded free at www.nctequality.org.
Mildred Loving passes away
RICHMOND, Va. — Mildred Loving (pictured), whose challenge to Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage led to the landmark Supreme Court ruling striking down such laws nationwide, died May 2 at the age of 68. Last year, on the 40th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, she spoke out in favor of allowing lesbians and gay men to marry.
Loving said, “Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the ‘wrong kind of person’ for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others.”
Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said, “Mildred Loving and her husband Richard took a courageous stand against a law that criminalized their love simply because of their skin color. Their determination is an inspiration to the LGBT community.” Richard Loving died in a car accident in 1975.
2009 No Name-Calling Week set
NEW YORK, N.Y. — The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing and the nearly 50 partners in the No Name-Calling Week Coalition have announced the dates for the sixth annual No Name-Calling Week. The next observance will take place Jan. 26-30, 2009.
Aimed at grades 5-8 with additional lesson plans for earlier grades, No Name-Calling Week is an annual week of educational activities aimed at ending name-calling of all kinds. The campaign also provides schools with the tools and inspiration to launch an ongoing dialogue about ways to eliminate bullying in their communities.
Thousands of schools are expected to participate in the week, inspired by the young adult novel “The Misfits,” by popular author James Howe. The book tells the story of four best friends trying to survive the seventh grade who create a “No Name Day” at school. For more information, visit www.nonamecallingweek.org.