BOSTON, Mass. — On May 20, physicians at Massachusetts General Hospital announced that U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA, pictured) had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Kennedy, 76, was hospitalized the preceding weekend after suffering a seizure at his family’s compound in Hyannisport, Mass. Kennedy has served in the U.S. Senate since 1962 and has remained a steadfast ally of the LGBT community.
Kennedy was the original sponsor of hate crimes prevention legislation in 1997. He voted against the Defense of Marriage Act and has bitterly opposed a federal marriage amendment. He is the Senate lead on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and has been outspoken on the need to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and increase funding for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.
Rea Carey, acting executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, echoed the thoughts of many Americans: “Senator Kennedy has been a courageous advocate on behalf of so many and will no doubt bring this same fighting spirit to this latest challenge.”
Portland elects openly gay mayor
PORTLAND, Ore. — City Commissioner Sam Adams will become the first openly gay mayor ever elected to lead one of the 30 largest U.S. cities. He garnered more than 50 percent of the vote during the May 21 primary, claiming victory over multiple opponents. In addition, Oregon Secretary of State candidate Kate Brown advanced to the November general election, easily winning her Democratic primary.
Both Adams and Brown were endorsed by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. The group is the only national organization dedicated to growing the number of openly LGBT elected officials at all levels of government.
“In Oregon, fairness has won the day,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund. “These victories mean that people who are openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender can also be seen as capable, committed leaders whose sexual orientation or gender identity is less important than what they plan to do for their communities. That’s a step toward full equality that we want to replicate across America.”
LGBT Christian conference set
NEW ORLEANS, La. — Hundreds of pro-LGBT faith leaders will converge here Sept. 4–7 for Many Stories, One Voice: The North American Convocation of Pro-LGBT Christians. According to organizers, the event will provide a rare and unique opportunity for pro-LGBT Christians to build relationships and experience “rich Bible study, challenging and profound worship and praise, concrete skills-building, strategic action and reflective and incisive theological analysis.”
Many Stories, One Voice is being convened by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, in partnership with more than 30 pro-LGBT Christian organizations. Visit www.many
storiesonevoice.org for the sponsor list and full schedule of events.
“Today, too many people think Christian equals obsession with hating LGBT persons. Too many people hear preachers talking about ‘homosexuals’ causing Hurricane Katrina and all other sorts of natural disasters. But the Christian gospel and the ministry of Jesus are all about justice and healing and hope,” said the Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, Institute for Welcoming Resources and faith work director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
Military ban suffers blow in court
SEATTLE, Wash. — On May 22, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a district court decision in Witt v. United States Air Force, a case challenging the constitutionality of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The decision marks the first time a federal appellate court has found that the military must meet a heightened standard when infringing on a gay service member’s right to privacy. The case has been remanded to the district court for further action.
Major Margaret Witt was discharged from the Air Force in 2003 after her commanders discovered she is a lesbian. Her separation from the Air Force came two years shy of her retirement and brought an end to her 18 year career as an operating room and flight nurse. Witt was honored by President Bush in 2003 with the Air Medal for her Middle East deployment.
“The Circuit Court’s ruling is a tremendous victory for Major Witt and her legal team,” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), which filed an amicus brief in support of Major Witt’s right to continue serving. “They deserve to be congratulated for their resolve in fighting for honesty in service.”
PFLAG to launch TG ad campaign
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) will debut a new ad campaign this summer featuring transgender actress and activist Calpernia Addams (pictured). The campaign, titled This Is Our Love Story, urges supporters to help “transform the movement” by joining the PFLAG’s work for transgender rights. Ads will begin appearing in community publications and pride guides this summer.
Addams, who starred in LOGO TV’s “Trans American Love Story” and was the subject of the Showtime film “Soldier’s Girl,” is also a decorated war veteran and a longtime advocate for transgender rights. She also appeared in the Academy Award-nominated film “TransAmerica” and on the hit television shows “Deadwood” and “CSI.”
Jody M. Huckaby, PFLAG’s executive director, said, “PFLAG has never wavered in our commitment to the transgender community, and our partnership with Calpernia underscores our deep commitment to transgender issues and our recognition that transgender people have always been a part of our families.”