National

Task force tackles LGBT suicides

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention has added three new task forces to address suicide prevention efforts within high-risk populations: LGBT youth; American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/AN); and military service members and veterans. This brings to six the number of task forces formed by the Action Alliance, the public-private partnership forged in September to advance the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.

In the U.S., suicide claims over 34,000 lives annually — the equivalent of 94 suicides per day, or one suicide every 15 minutes. Studies show that LGBT youth are from 1.5 to seven times more likely to report having attempted suicide than their non-LGBT peers.

Co-leading the LGBT Youth Task Force are Kevin Jennings, assistant deputy secretary, Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, U.S. Department of Education, and Charles Robbins, executive director of The Trevor Project, the leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among LGBT youth.

“This task force will bring together the best minds in the country to combat suicide and make sure that every LGBT youth has the opportunity to grow up in a supportive, accepting community and to enter adulthood safely,” Robbins said.

For more information, visit actionallianceforsuicideprevention.org.

HRC criticized for ‘Milk’ money

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — The Human Rights Campaign has drawn fire for their plan to set up a store selling HRC-branded gifts and merchandise in the Castro St. camera shop originally owned by assassinated gay rights icon Harvey Milk.

Dustin Lance Black, Oscar-winning screenwriter of the biopic “Milk,” said, “Harvey Milk spent the last years of his life fighting not only for rights for gays and lesbians across the nation, but also against the idea that the only way to achieve those rights is to lobby the government and financially support so-called ‘straight allies’. Harvey believed the best way to secure our rights was through grassroots action, coalition building and the election of LGBT people to office at all levels of government. He encouraged people to come out of the closet and be vocal about who they were and why they deserved full equality, not partial equality or crumbs. For the HRC leadership, which still advocates a piecemeal, wait-and-see approach to try and co-opt and profit from Harvey’s legacy is an outrage.”

“HRC has proven time and again that its main goal is not to advance rights for LGBT Americans but to raise funds amongst the LGBT community for Democratic candidates,” stated Log Cabin Republicans President Dan Brown. “If HRC, as the largest LGBT rights organization by funding, took a page from Harvey’s book rather than relying on empty promises from elected officials that rarely materialize, then we would be much closer to full equality than we currently are.

Senate OKs Feldblum for EEOC

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Senate has confirmed Chai Feldblum to a full term as a commissioner of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Republican senators had previously blocked Feldblum’s nomination, leading President Obama to use a recess appointment to make her, temporarily, a commissioner in March 2010. That temporary appointment would have expired at the end of 2011; Feldblum will now serve through July 2013.

“We commend the Senate for finally setting aside pointless partisanship and confirming this highly qualified candidate for a full term on the EEOC,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Chai Feldblum has spent decades working to protect those most ignored and maligned by our society. The civil rights of all Americans will be in good hands with Chai Feldblum’s continued service on the EEOC.”

Prior to her recess appointment, Feldblum served as a professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center. Throughout her career, she has worked to enact protections for some of the most stigmatized populations in America. As legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union in the 1980s, she worked to secure legal protections for people with AIDS at a time when the disease was vilified and poorly understood. Professor Feldblum also played a leading role in the drafting and negotiation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Wingers boycott wingers over gays

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Several right-wing groups including two conservative power players say they will boycott the annual Conservative Political Action Conference this year due to the inclusion of a gay Republican group. The high-profile event brings thousands of conservatives to the nation’s capital each February. Many groups are upset that GOProud, a gay group that participated in the conference last year, is being allowed to return. The angered parties argue that allowing a gay group to officially participate violates conservative ideals of faith and family.

The American Principles Project started the flap when it announced its intention to skip CPAC because of GOProud. A number of organizations followed suit culminating with boycott announcements from both the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America.

In an interview with Salon.com, GOProud Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia declined to respond directly to the groups boycotting the conference, saying only that “CPAC is an important event and I hope that all conservatives will join in participating. We’re very proud of our record, and we’ll put our conservative credentials up against anyone.”

Global

Israeli gay couples can adopt

A precedent-setting ruling last month in the Jerusalem Family Court has blazed a path for gays to officially adopt their partner’s or spouse’s child, The Jerusalem Post reports. The child in question in the landmark case was born two years go to a man via a surrogate mother in India. About a year ago, the man’s partner initiated action to adopt the child.

The two men pursued the usual adoption process – including passing a review from a social worker who submitted a positive recommendation to the Jerusalem Family Court. However, the court was hesitant to rule since there was no precedent for this type of adoption. After an attorney presented the men’s case to the court, the adoption was granted.

“This is a big step for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in Israel,” commented lawyer Irit Rosenblum, executive director of New Family, an organization that champions the rights of Israelis to marry and build families outside the traditional system. “However, there is still a long road to the desired recognition, since each issue pertaining to gay rights is decided by the courts, and not by the legislature.”

David Stout

David Stout is the associate editor of QNotes. He can be reached at editor2@goqnotes.com.