Judy Trampf and Katy Heyning, one of the couples seeking to become part of the lawsuit that will determine the fate of domestic partnerships in Wisconsin.
ACLU Filed Supporting Brief on Behalf of Five Couples

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals today upheld the state’s law granting domestic partnership protections to same-sex couples.

The American Civil Liberties Union had filed an amicus brief on behalf of five couples who stood to lose crucial protections such as hospital visitation, the ability to make certain decisions about medical care and to access family medical leave if the law is overturned.

“Committed same-sex couples in Wisconsin only want the peace of mind of being able to protect and provide for each other like any other married couple,” said John Knight, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “Because they are denied the freedom to marry, these couples just wanted to hold on to the limited protections afforded to them by the domestic partnership law. To strip them of these would have been cruel and unjust.”

The law was challenged by members of Wisconsin Family Action, Inc., an anti-LGBT organization that contends that the law granted same-sex couples a substantially similar status to marriage, which is barred by the Wisconsin Constitution. The same organization originally campaigned to secure the marriage amendment’s passage, claiming at the time that domestic partnerships would not be affected.

“While domestic partnership protections don’t provide quite the same security as marriage, they are crucial for same-sex couples in times of crisis,” said Larry Dupuis, legal director of the ACLU of Wisconsin. “We’re grateful that the court will allow these families to continue to benefit from these limited protections for their families.”

One of the couples represented by the ACLU is Katy Heyning and Judi Trampf.

“We are thrilled that the court has upheld the constitutionality of the domestic partnership law,” said Heyning. “We know the people of Wisconsin did not wish to exclude domestic partnerships when the marriage amendment was passed. We are pleased that our rights will not be taken away, and that we will still be able to make medical and legal decisions for each other. After being together for 23 years, it seems fair that we should. However, we look forward to the day when we will be able to have all of the same rights married couples now enjoy.”

In addition to Dupuis and Knight, the legal team representing the couples includes Linda Hansen, Daniel Manna and David Goroff of Foley & Lardner, LLP.

Additional information about the case, including bios of the couples and legal documents, is available at: www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights/appling-v-doyle-case-profile
 
 
Let's promise to learn more about AIDS and let's keep our promises.

GRACE POORE, Program Coordinator for Asia and Pacific Islands The 2012 World AIDS Day theme of zero discrimination cannot be achieved when the first-ever declaration of human rights in Asia consciously and deliberately denies human rights protections for LGBT people, when political leaders publicly vilify and spread prejudice against gay people, when LGBT people are accused of spreading AIDS, when murders of lesbians are ignored, when laws are used to target LGBT people. There is no such thing as one kind of discrimination. Zero discrimination has to mean ending multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, and embracing human rights protections for ALL marginalized and vulnerable people.

DAMIAN UGWU, Program Coordinator for AfricaCriminalization of same-sex relationships in Africa as well as widespread discrimination and stigmatization of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people often fuels HIV infections among our communities. African governments must come to terms with the fact that no meaningful progress can be made in the fight against the HIV and AIDS pandemic in Africa without the decriminalization of homosexuality and protection of LGBT human rights.

HOSSEIN ALIZADEH, Program Coordinator for Middle East and North AfricaOver three decades after the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic, in many countries in the Middle East and North Africa "morality" and religious dogmas continue to blur public understanding of this disease. HIV/AIDS is often viewed as a divine punishment for sexually promiscuous individuals. This stereotyping forces members of at-risk communities to avoid discussion of the issue, which in turn keeps members of society in the dark and increases the danger for individuals to unknowingly be exposed to the virus. In some cases authorities manipulate the data and suggest that there is no HIV in their society. It is time for all societies to put aside prejudice and denial, and start an open and free discussion around prevention and treatment strategies.

Poster produced by UNAIDS and UNICEF, in Persian.
Source: IGLHRC: International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
 
 

A draconian bill was introduced in Nigeria’s Assembly that would ultimately jail Nigeria’s gay citizens and anyone whosupported them if it becomes law. More than 30,000 All Out members joined Nigeria’s lesbians, gays, and allies by calling upon Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan to veto the bill should it pass its final reading in the Assembly this month. 

Any public displays of affection, such as holding hands, or even looking at each other affectionately could result in a 10 year jail sentence. 

The bill would make it a crime for gays and lesbians to get married, to witness a gay marriage, or for an affirming churches to perform a gay wedding. Gays and lesbians who marry will face 14 years in prison

Whether the participant is gay or straight, anyone who organizes or becomes a member of a “gay club” or supports a gay organization, including those providing critical HIV/AIDS services targeting LGBT Nigerians, could also face jail time.

"The spread of HIV in the country is fueled by the growing stigma and discrimination of people, and a legislation as this will only make it more difficult to provide services to our highly productive youth burdened by the epidemic, irrespective of sexual orientation or gender identity.” said Oliver Anene, Coordinator of the Initiative for Improved Male Health. “We humbly implore our lawmakers to really consider the long term consequences of this bill on the social security of our youth."

The Executive Director of International Center for Advocacy on Right to Health (ICARH) Mr. Ifeanyi Orazulike says that “The Bill will further drive the populations of sexual minority targeted by civil society organizations with HIV/AIDS prevention and intervention programs underground, with grave consequences on public health”. He added that “HIV/AIDS does not respect any culture, religion, race or political opinion”.

"If two people of the same sex want to make their relationship more stable and commit themselves more deeply to each other, this can only be good for Nigeria. It makes no difference whether the couple is gay or straight. Homosexual Nigerians have not been campaigning to change the definition of marriage. They have not even asked for marriage rights in Nigeria. All they ask is the right to live freely, speak freely and love freely. We ask that the lawmakers reconsider their decision to pass this bill as it infringes on the Human Rights of Nigerian LGBT people" says Davis Mac-Iyalla, Nigerian Human Rights Defender.

Last year Nigeria’s senate passed an earlier version of the same bill, but after 65,000 All Out members joined Nigeria’s fair minded citizens by calling for an end of the bill, it did not move forward.  

All Out has launched a new online campaign in coordination with Nigerian citizens who are fighting to stop the “Jail the Gays” bill once again. All Out members from around the world are supporting Nigerian citizens in calling upon Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan to veto the bill.

“The ‘Jail the Gays’ bill is an attack on not only gays and lesbians, but on straight Nigerians,” said Andre Banks, the Executive Director and co-founder of All Out, the world’s largest global LGBT organization. “Basic freedoms like the freedom to assemble, the freedom to worship as one chooses, and the freedom to love are under attack by the Nigerian government. No one is safe from this dangerous bill - it is a distraction from real problems and must be stopped.”

To see the live signature totals from All Out’s petition visit: www.allout.org/nigeria-veto.
 
 
by Dan Rafter 

Wachowksi delivered a moving speech while accepting the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award


Lana Wachowski, the critically acclaimed director of the Matrix trilogy and the new movie Cloud Atlas, opened up about her journey as a transgender woman while receiving the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award in San Francisco this past weekend. Wachowski’s emotional speech included heart-wrenching stories about her inability to fit in as a child and her suicide attempt during high school. Wachowski shared her highly personal story with the goal of making conditions easier for other transgender youth to feel confident about their futures.

“It took great courage for Lana to share her personal story,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The impact of people like Lana and other high-profile figures who talk openly about their journeys sends an incredibly powerful message to youth who, on a daily basis, feel like they are broken simply because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. No one should ever feel like their dreams cannot be achieved because of whom they are, and Lana is a shining example of how we are at our best when we are true to ourselves.”

In her remarks, Wachowski touched on the painful isolation that is all too familiar to many LGBT youth: “…without examples, without models, I began to believe voices in my head -- that I was a freak, that I am broken, that there is something wrong with me, that I will never be lovable.” Those feelings led her to consider suicide while in high school.

Wachowski closed her remarks by stressing that she wants to a beacon of hope for youth struggling with those same feelings of isolation: “I am here because when I was young, I wanted very badly to be a writer, I wanted to be a filmmaker, but I couldn’t find anyone like me in the world and it felt like my dreams were foreclosed simply because my gender was less typical than others.”

Wachowski’s new film, Cloud Atlas, opens in theaters tomorrow. The film, already garnering high praise, stars Tom Hanks and Halle Berry, and received a 10-minute standing ovation following its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

 
 

by Cathy Rena

“EQUALIZE YOUTH” TO LAUNCH “OUT YOUR STORY”: AN ONLINE SUPPORT NETWORK THAT SAFELY CONNECTS LGBT YOUTH, FAMILIES AND LGBT ADULTS.

On October 11, 2012, National Coming Out Day, Equalize Youth, an emerging web-based non-profit with the mission of empowering lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth and their families, is set to launch its global support network, Out Your Story.

Out Your Story combines key components from sites such as Google Maps, Reddit, and craigslist, and is the first program to be launched by Equalize Youth. This one-of-a-kind platform uses a map interface to organize user-submitted content, including relevant, real-life accounts and resources. Out Your Story empowers youth with a knowledge-base formed by adults, and enables them to connect with relatable content -- the stories, reflections, and coping mechanisms submitted by those that have lived in similar backgrounds and communities, queer folks of their same gender and orientation.

Starting October 11th, the adults that care for the health, happiness, and safety of LGBTQ youth will have the unprecedented opportunity to out their story, and make a meaningful impact for these youth. Additional to sharing basic identity-related criteria like sexual orientation and gender identity, by using Google Maps, contributors will tie their entries to actual places: towns, states, high schools, summer camps. This enables visitors to search by typing a zip code to find a map filled with love and support from people that have been in their shoes. While storytelling initiatives such as It Gets Better have already proven successful, Out Your Story will distinguish itself from these projects through its anonymity, its multimedia versatility, and its unique knowledge base that delivers to visitors content that they personally relate to.

“Out Your Story is an easy, personal, and uncompromising way for everyone to help LGBT youth. I believe that everyone wishes there were something easy they could do, and together, we’re making it happen. Our team is creating an accessible, empowering, and engaging outlet for everyone that wants to positively impact LGBTQ youth. We are committed to maximizing the impact of everyone’s efforts through our platform, and our goal is give these individuals an irrefutable low barrier and high impact opportunity to make a difference in the lives of LGBT youth.” said Derek Gerson, Founder and Executive Director.

Across the globe, individuals are backing the development of Out Your Story. With the active participation of authors, celebrities, artists, and LGBT military personnel, Equalize Youth has ongoing efforts in the crowd-funding portal Indiegogo. The youth-led team behind this 21st century platform will employ the funds to further the Out Your Story platform, and introduce features such as identity-related tags for ethnic backgrounds, religious upbringings, ability/disability, and more. An ask.com-style framework that enables youth to safely submit questions to contributors is also in the works, together with a feature that enables youth to suggest petitions for changes in their school policy.

For more information visit www.equalizeyouth.org  or www.indiegogo.com/equalizeyouth.
 
 
The 2012 Icons List

1. Roberta Achtenberg
2. Gloria Anzaldua
3. Ann Bannon
4. Katharine Lee Bates
5. Mary Bonauto
6. Glenn Burke
7. Paul Cadmus
8. Truman Capote
9. Chris Colfer
10. Kate Clinton
11. Ramon Cortines
12. Marlene Dietrich
13. Jodie Foster
14. Jean Paul Gaultier
15. Henry Gerber
16. Billy Haines
17. Mary Kay Henry
18. Chris Hughes
19. Christine Jorgensen
20. Arthur Laurents
21. Don Lemon
22. Federico Garcia Lorca
23. Irshad Manji
24. Katherine Miller
25. Holly Near
26. RuPaul
27. Pierre Seel
28. Billy Strayhorn
29. Jon Stryker
30. Tom Waddell
31. Rev. Robert Wood




Source: Press release
Los Angeles Unified School District to Collaborate in LGBT History Month

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the nation’s second largest school district, will collaborate in LGBT History Month in October 2012.  The district will utilize the free LGBT History Month online educational resources.

The LAUSD educational collaboration follows the passage of the FAIR Education Act in 2011, making California the first state to require public schools to teach LGBT inclusive history. “ I want LGBT students to see their education as the diamond, their joy in their life rather than their trauma,” said Dr. Judy Chiasson, Coordinator, Human Relations, Diversity & Equity, for LAUSD. “Schools have an obligation to present the diversity of our communities. There are many different types of families; we want all of our families to be recognized in our schools.”

On September 19th, the School Board of Broward County, Florida, the nation’s sixth largest school district, became the first in the country to issue a unanimous resolution in support of LGBT History Month.

Equality Forum coordinates LGBT History Month. “Previously, the LGBT community was the only minority not taught its history at home, in public schools or religious institutions,” stated Malcolm Lazin, Executive Director, Equality Forum, and founder of LGBT History Month. “The Los Angeles and Broward School Districts are the first major public school districts to recognize the important national and international contributions of the LGBT community. These two school districts take the initial, but giant step in public school embracing LGBT inclusion and respect.”  

The Los Angeles and Broward School Districts include more than one million students. There are over 14,000 school districts in the United States.

In 2010, the federal government recognized LGBT History Month when Secretary Arne Duncan led a U.S. Department of Education ceremony. In 2011, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi issued a proclamation for LGBT History Month.

Each day of the month, an Icon is featured with a video, biography, bibliography, downloadable images and other educational resources. These resources are available without charge at www.lgbtHistoryMonth.com. Started in 2006 with 31 Icons per year, there are 217 Icons with resources archived on the LGBT History Month site.
2012 Icons

 
 
California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law SB 1172, a bill that will put an end to dangerous and disproved efforts designed to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender expression that have proven to inflict great emotional harm, that can lead to depression, substance abuse and suicide.  This makes California the first state to ban 'gay cure' therapy on minors with this new law.
 
Efforts to change sexual orientation or gender expression have been debunked as junk science, and have also been proven harmful to children and adults.  All major medical and mental health organizations have denounced the practice including: the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American School Counselor Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Pan American Health Organization. 

Kate Kendell President of The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) issued the following statement:
"This legislation is one of the most important bills NCLR has ever sponsored. Since 1993, NCLR’s Youth Project has provided legal support to LGBT youth who have been damaged by psychological abuse and mistreatment at the hands of abusive mental health practitioners who tell these youth that who they are is bad, sick, and wrong. We have seen firsthand the terrible, lasting damage caused by these deadly practices. This law provides a powerful tool to make sure that therapists who abuse LGBT youth can be held legally accountable. And just as important, it sends a powerful message of affirmation and support to LGBT youth and their families—telling them loud and clear that the state of California will not stand by while state-licensed therapists abuse their power to harm LGBT youth and propagate the deadly lie that sexual orientation is an illness or disorder that can be “cured.”

Special thanks also go to the many organizations who sent action alerts to their members and urged the Governor to support the bill. And a very special thanks to you, the people who—through your calls, your emails, and your tweets—took the time to ask Governor Brown to put a stop to these practices.

We are also grateful to celebrities such as Jane Lynch, Chely Wright, and Wilson Cruz who worked alongside us, tweeting their followers to encourage them to ask the Governor to sign this bill.

Chad Griffin President od Human Rights Campaign issued the following statement:
"We're grateful to Governor Brown for standing with California's children. LGBT youth will now be protected from a practice that has not only been debunked as junk science, but has been proven to have drastically negative effects on their well-being. We commend Governor Brown for putting children first, and call on all states to take California’s lead on this issue.  We will continue our fight against this kind of child abuse, which has been deemed harmful to children by all major mental health, medical, and child welfare organizations."

Authored by California Senator Ted Lieu, SB 1172 was sponsored by Equality California, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Gaylesta, Lambda Legal, Mental Health of North America, and the Courage Campaign.  This week nearly 50,000 concerned citizens signed a Human Rights Campaign petition urging the Governor to sign the bill.

Please send aheartfelt thank you to Governor Brown for his leadership on this issue. You can thank him directly by tweeting him @JerryBrownGov or by using TinyURL.Com/ThankCAGov.

Source Press releases from HRC and NCLR
 
 
From HRC: Supreme Court to decide fate of Prop 8 case shortly; denial of hearing would mean return of marriage equality in California

WASHINGTON – In a matter of weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether or not to hear the Perry v. Brown case – the suit challenging California’s ban on marriage for gay and lesbian couples known as Prop 8.  If the court decides not to hear the case, the appeals court ruling will stand striking down Prop 8 as unconstitutional, and the state will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples again.  The court will also consider whether to review a number of cases challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which bars the federal government from recognizing married same-sex couples, even in states that legally recognize their union.  These milestones, along with the four states deciding marriage-related issues on the ballot in November makes these next few weeks critical to the future of marriage equality in this country.

On Wednesday, September 18, 2012, at 1:30 p.m. E.T., the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) will hold a national phone press briefing on the status of the marriage cases in front of the Supreme Court and the marriage equality landscape across the country.

In the states, voters in Washington and Maryland will head to the polls to affirm marriage equality legislation passed by their state legislatures. In Maine, we are looking at the first chance to proactively pass marriage at the ballot. And in Minnesota, voters can vote no on a proposed constitutional amendment banning marriage equality. Heading into 2013, we’re also looking at possible marriage equality bills in states like Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.

Of course, the presidential election also will be a turning point in the fight for marriage. President Obama supports full marriage equality – and is the first president to do so while in office. He’s also directed the Justice Department to stop defending DOMA. Mitt Romney presents an alarming contrast – he doesn’t support relationship recognition for same-sex couples (even George W. Bush supported civil unions), he’s vowed to defend DOMA, and he’s even pledged to support a constitutional amendment banning committed, loving same-sex couples from marrying.

Momentum is on our side – a majority of Americans, including an increasing number of conservatives, support marriage equality. Help spread the word and share this chart with your friends and family.

 
 
From: HRC

First-of-its-kind resource shows Congress behind public on marriage for gays and lesbians

Washington – Today the Human Rights Campaign released a comprehensive survey of the marriage equality positions of Members of Congress.  The new resource, available online at www.hrc.org/resources/entry/your-elected-officials, combines Members’ marriage positions with their record on other critical LGBT issues in one searchable database.  Support for marriage equality will also be noted in HRC’s Congressional Scorecard published in the fall.

“As a majority of Americans have come to support the ability of loving and committed gay and lesbian couples to marry, they rightfully want to know whether their elected officials share that fair-minded view,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Many Members of Congress are commendably with the public, but Congress is always a lagging indicator.  It’s time for more of our leaders to get on the right side of history.”

 Among both the House and Senate, 181 members support marriage equality (34 percent).  234 have made statements against (44 percent) and 122 have an unclear or unknown position (23 percent).  36 Senators and 145 Representatives support marriage equality with 52 Senators and 182 Representatives opposed.

 All 100 Senators, 431 sitting Representatives and 6 Delegates were asked whether or not they agreed with this statement: “Gay and lesbian couples should not be denied the ability to pledge their love and commitment through the civil institution of marriage. I believe that two committed adults of the same sex should be able to receive a government-issued marriage license, while religious institutions retain their right to determine which marriages they will perform,” or alternatively provide an unambiguous statement supporting marriage equality.  HRC supplemented that survey with other publicly available statements.  Members who did not respond or whose positions are unclear are labeled as such.

 Among Democrats, support is at 72 percent with 9 percent opposed and 19 percent unclear or unknown.  Only one Republican in Congress supports marriage equality – Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida.  Support is strongest in the East (58 percent) and the West (51 percent) and weakest in the Midwest (25 percent) and the South (15 percent).  In states where gay and lesbian couples can marry, 69 percent of Senators and Representatives support marriage equality while 17 percent are opposed.  And in the four states facing marriage-related ballot measures in November, 56 percent of leaders are supportive of marriage equality with 21 percent opposed.

Nationally, support for marriage equality among the public is at 54 percent according to a June 2012 CNN poll.  While marriages are performed on a state level, federal elected officials play a role in the marriage equality debate including efforts to repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act barring the federal government from recognizing legally married same-sex couples.  Additionally some Member of Congress continue to advocate for a Federal Marriage Amendment that would write discrimination into the Constitution and bar loving and committed gay and lesbian couples from marriage in any state.

 
 
Chicago Activists to Re-Launch Boycott of Anti-Gay Chick-fil-A


Chicago activists will re-launch a boycott of the chain Chick-fil-A in a protest on Wednesday, August 8, from 4:30-6pm., in front of the chain's   open outlet in Chicago, located at 30 E. Chicago Avenue.4:30 to 6 PM 

The Loyola University Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild initiated organizing against the store before it opened last year. They launched a boycott of the store, which is leased from the university, but the boycott was little-known off of campus.

"As our movement against Anita Bryant showed a generation ago, even very entrenched bigots can be defeated by smart and effective use of boycotts, demonstrations and other direct mobilizations of LGBTI's and our allies," said Andy Thayer of the Gay Liberation, the group which is initiating next Wednesday's protest.  

Bryant was a former beauty queen and TV spokeswoman for Florida oranges and orange juice. Her anti-gay career was entitled the "Save Our Children" crusade. It led to huge spikes in anti-gay violence in city after city that it visited.  A huge proportion of our country's early pro-gay legislation was repealed as a result of Anita Bryant's movement.

"But she was defeated not by an expensive, slick ad campaign run by high-paid consultants," said Thayer, "but by the mobilization of countless thousands of LGBTI's and our allies in the streets of America.  The successful boycott of Florida oranges, and the rallies and marches that accompanied it, was our slick ad campaign."

While many charges of censorship have been made against Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno (D-1st) for apparently wanting to prevent Chick-fil-A from opening a store in his ward, GLN contends that both Moreno and his critics miss an important point.  While it would be illegal censorship for the government to prevent a business from operating based solely on its leaders' bigoted statements, there is evidence that Chick-fil-A may be in violation of bedrock civil rights principles that should prevent it from operating.

A February 2011 article in the Windy City Times stated that Chick-fil-A founder "Truett Cathy is quoted as openly admitting he prefers married employees, 'believing they are more industrious and productive' [and] Anyone who applies for an operator license is asked to "disclose marital status, number of dependents and involvement in 'community, civic, social, church and/or professional organizations.'" Not only does this discriminate against singles in general, but also people in same-sex relationships who, like in Illinois, are not allowed to marry.  For those LGBTI people who do get employed by Chick-fil-A, the corporate culture could be interpreted as constituting a hostile working environment, if we lived in a country where labor law enforcement was taken seriously.

For more information about Wednesday's protest, contact the Gay Liberation Network at 773.209.1187 or email LGBTliberation@aol.com