San Francisco – Today President Obama announced that he will honor assassinated civil rights leader Harvey Milk with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor recognizing significant contributions to the nation and the world. The President will also honor Senator Edward Kennedy and tennis legend Billie Jean King, an open lesbian and longtime champion for the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, with the Medal of Freedom on August 12.
Last year, EQCA sponsored the first bill in the country to officially honor Milk, the nation’s first openly gay man elected to major political office, but the Governor vetoed it. Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) introduced the Harvey Milk Day bill, sponsored by EQCA, again this year. The legislation would require the governor to annually proclaim May 22 as Harvey Milk Day, designating it as a “day of special significance,” to recognize Milk’s work to secure equal protections.
Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender-rights advocacy organization in California. In the past decade, EQCA has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for LGBT individuals to a state with some of the most comprehensive civil-rights protections in the nation. EQCA has passed over 50 pieces of legislation and continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, public education and community empowerment. www.eqca.org
President Obama, attempting to spotlight those who have acted as “agents of change,” today announced that he will bestow the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor, on a cast of living and deceased figures widely known in politics, the arts and sciences, sports and social movements.
The 16 honorees named by the White House today include Harvey Milk, the San Francisco city supervisor who led an early movement for gay rights in public life and was assassinated. They include the late Republican Congressman Jack Kemp, a football legend as well, and the ailing Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts.
The president’s choices, who will be honored at a White House ceremony Aug. 12, include American civil-rights activist the Rev. Joseph Lowery and South African freedom fighter Desmond Tutu. They include a pioneer in sports for women, tennis star Billie Jean King, and the first woman on the Supreme Court, retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
They include actor Sidney Poitier and singer Chita Rivera.
Obama names Medal of Freedom recipients, including Harvey Milk …
They include actor Sidney Poitier and singer Chita Rivera.
The argument that protecting Metro government’s gay employees would force the private sector to follow suit is all backward, supporters of a new anti-discrimination measure say.
Around the country, 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies’ anti-discrimination policies include sexual orientation or gender identity. In Nashville, some of the city’s largest private employers — http://www.vanderbilt.edu/“>Vanderbilt University and http://www.hcahealthcare.com/“>Hospital Corporation of America — put similar policies into place.
Against that landscape, the new measure’s supporters say, it should have a better chance of passage than a similar one proposed in 2003. But opponents say following the private-sector pack isn’t the way to go.
“Just because someone else does something doesn’t mean it’s right, and we learned that when we all took off from kindergarten,” said David Fowler, a former state senator and president of the http://www.factn.org/“>Family Action Council of Tennessee. “So unless we are going to act like lemmings and just blindly do what everybody else is doing, we need to stop and think before we make this a law.”
The city already has protections based on race, sex, religious affiliation and national origin in place, Fowler said, and protection based on sexuality is incongruous. He also said such a law could expose the city to lawsuits by people who feel it was broken.
Well, it was only a matter of time, wasn’t it? According to authorities, one of our own social conservative Republicans has been caught cheating on his wife, and he was doing it with a young legislative intern. At this juncture, we’re going to resist the temptation to make a joke about family values. That’s getting so old it’s not funny anymore.
Suffice it to say that like John Ensign, Mark Sanford and all the rest on the national stage lately, this one is really rich–with a little homemade porn and a bumbling blackmailer tossed into the story to make it even spicier. Ensnared in Tennessee’s own sex scandal tonight is Sen. Paul Stanley, the wingnut from Germantown who has crusaded to ban gay adoption of children and who once made the really stupid mistake of saying: “When you’re married, there’s a commitment there.”
According to court documents, here’s what happened: Stanley, who is married with two children, was having an affair with his 22-year-old legislative intern, McKensie Morrison. Morrison’s boyfriend, Joel Palmer Watts. 28, discovered a computer memory disc with sexually explicit photographs of Morrison that appeared to have been taken in Stanley’s apartment. Watts then blackmailed Stanley, demanding $10,000 in return for keeping quiet about the senator’s relationship with his intern.
ast month Texas Lyceum, a non-partisan, business-oriented group, released one of its periodic polls on current issues, and the results for the most part were what one would expect in a conservative state. By margins of about 2-to-1, Texas opposed any further bailouts for automakers or banks. An even bigger margin – including a majority of whites, blacks and Hispanics – supported the concept of a voter ID requirement.
But on one issue, the poll did raise some eyebrows. According to the survey, a majority of Texans would permit some form of same-sex union to be recognized: 25 percent favor same-sex marriage and 32 percent would allow civil unions, while 36 percent oppose either arrangement. Although Democrats and independents were more liberal on this issue than Republicans, a thin Republican majority – 14 percent for same-sex marriage, 37 percent for civil unions – now favor one arrangement or the other.
That indicates that Texans are more conservative than the rest of the country on this issue, but not dramatically so. A CBS News/New York Times poll conducted at about the same time showed that 33 percent of Americans favor same-sex marriage, 30 percent would permit civil unions and 32 percent oppose any legal recognition of same-sex or lesbian couples.
This national poll also showed opinions on the issue are shifting back and forth: In a CBS News/New York Times poll conducted in April, support for same-sex marriage was at 42 percent. That decrease in support could be a result of the rising visibility of the issue: In June, New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch signed a bill which made his state the sixth in the country to allow same-sex marriage.
The fact that attitudes in Texas aren’t greatly out of line with the rest of the country doesn’t portend any big changes in the law in this region of the country, any time soon. If same-sex marriage/civil unions had been polled last month in Tennessee or Alabama, opposition to either one would probably have been significantly higher. But it may be an indication that as a political issue which can easily get traction, the air is slowly leaking out of the tire.
Most of the states, and all the Southern states, have passed some form of Defense of Marriage Act, and all the Southern states except North Carolina have passed constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. This makes it less, not more likely that conservative candidates in these states will get much mileage out of the issue than they have in recent years. It’s much more likely that opposition to same-sex unions will galvanize votes in states like New Jersey or Pennsylvania, where changes in current laws are a greater possibility.
None of this is to say conservative candidates won’t be able to raise money and garner endorsements on the issue well into the next decade. But it’s noteworthy that the strongest opposition to gay marriage in nearly every poll comes from African-Americans, who aren’t likely to swing behind candidates who are conservative on other issues.
See On same-sex marriage/civil unions, the air is leaking out of the tire
Southern Political Report -
Which celebrity would you feel most comfortable leaving your kids with?
Ellen DeGeneres and Portia De Rossi; Jennifer Aniston; Rachel Ray; Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt; or Oprah Winfrey?
If you answered “Ellen and Portia,” you agreed with the 10,000 mostly moms who participated in a recent survey on AOL’s “Parent Dish.”
Thirty-one percent picked the lesbian couple, followed by Aniston (22 percent), Ray (20 percent), “Angelina and Brad” (18 percent), and Winfrey (9 percent).
The perky comedian has captured America’s heart since her huge coming out at age 39 in 1997, including on her award-winning “Ellen” situation comedy and the cover of Time magazine.
Twelve years ago, Ellen’s move was gutsy, potentially career-crushing. Tennis legend Martina Navratilova says her own earlier coming out cost her millions of dollars in endorsements from companies skittish about having a lesbian advertise their products.
But, over these dozen years, Ellen, her gifts, her personal life and her bank account have blossomed.
After hosting the Emmys and the Grammys, Ellen in 2007 became the first out gay person to host the Academy Awards.
She has done ads for American Express and Advil, teamed up with One-a-Day multivitamins to urge women to get checked for breast cancer and, get this, is a Cover Girl.
Pop culture, I’m quick to admit, is my weak suit. So when I found myself shouting “No way!” at the delightful “Parent Dish” results, it was time to do a little TiVoing of Ellen’s daytime talk show: How has this wonder woman pulled off being so 100 percent gay, beloved and successful?
Three shows — and a lot of chuckles — later, I understand. Ellen creates an enchanting, playful land, where she, contestants and the audience embrace the basic goodness in themselves and others.
There are winners — and the also-winners. In one particularly funny contest, audience members Aimee and Pennylane donned huge, padded sumo wrestler outfits and had to answer goofy questions — “How many inches are in 12 inches?” — and waddle to grab a football to win a key that might start a $40,000 Ford Taurus.
When it became clear that Aimee had found her true calling, Ellen gave the last key to Pennylane. No foul was called by Aimee.
ACLU Sues To Stop Tennessee Schools From Censoring Gay Educational Web Sites; Filtering Software Allows Anti-Gay Sites
NASHVILLE, TN – The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Tennessee sued two Tennessee school districts in federal court today, charging the schools are unconstitutionally blocking students from accessing online information about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, Knox County Schools and as many as 105 other school districts in Tennessee use Internet filtering software to block Web sites containing pro-LGBT speech, but not Web sites touting so-called “reparative therapy” and “ex-gay” ministries. The “LGBT” filter is not used to block sites containing pornography, which are filtered under a different category, but it does block the sites of many well-known LGBT organizations including Parents, Families, And Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and Human Rights Campaign (HRC).
“Allowing access to Web sites that present one side of an issue while blocking sites that present the other side is illegal viewpoint discrimination,” said Catherine Crump, a staff attorney with the ACLU First Amendment Working Group and lead attorney on the case. “This discriminatory censorship does nothing to make students safe from material that may actually be harmful, but only hurts them by making it impossible to access important educational material.”
The school districts block the Internet filtering category designated “LGBT,” which includes sites that “provide information regarding, support, promote, or cater to one’s sexual orientation or gender identity.” They do not, however, block sites that condemn homosexuality or promote “reparative therapy,” a practice purporting to “cure” LGBT people that is denounced as dangerous and harmful to young people by such groups as the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association.
The ACLU filed the case in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee against Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools and Knox County Schools on behalf of two high school students in Nashville, one student in Knoxville and a high school librarian in Knoxville who is also the advisor of the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA).
“Students need to be able to access information about their legal rights or what to do if they’re being harassed at school,” said Keila Franks, a 17-year-old student at Hume-Fogg High School in Nashville and a plaintiff on the case. “It’s completely unfair for schools to keep students in the dark about such important issues and treat Web sites that just offer information like they’re something dirty.”
The lawsuit charges that blocking LGBT sites violates students’ First Amendment rights by only allowing access to sites that present an anti-gay point of view on the rights of LGBT persons on issues such as anti-gay harassment, marriage, employment discrimination and the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy while blocking access to sites that support LGBT rights. Further, the filtering hinders the ability of GSAs and their members to facilitate club activities and keeps students from accessing important information about scholarships for LGBT students or doing research for school-related assignments.
The ACLU first learned about the discriminatory filtering from Andrew Emitt, a Knoxville high school student who discovered the problem while trying to search for LGBT scholarships. Internet filtering software is mandated in public schools by Tennessee law, which requires schools to implement software to restrict information that is obscene or harmful to minors. However, the “LGBT” filter category does not include material which is sexually gratuitous and already included in the “pornography” filtering category.
“While schools may have an interest in using filters to block material that could be harmful to minors, blocking access to information about LGBT issues while allowing anti-gay information is unlawful and potentially dangerous,” said Tricia Herzfeld, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Tennessee. “There is no place for this kind of unconstitutional censorship in our public schools.”
In addition to Crump and Herzfeld, attorneys on the case are Chris Hansen of the ACLU First Amendment Working Group and Christine Sun of the ACLU LGBT Project.
The plaintiffs are Nashville students Keila Franks and Emily Logan, Knoxville student Bryanna Shelton, and Karyn Storts-Brinks, a Knoxville high school librarian and faculty sponsor for her school’s GSA.
More information about the case, including the ACLU’s complaint and a video featuring one of the student plaintiffs, is available online at: www.aclu.org/lgbt/youth/39346res20090413.html.
(Clarksville, Tenn.) Tennessee authorities have invalidated the 18-month marriage of a transgender woman and a man, saying the state considers them both men.
Jo T. Rittenberry, 46, was born a man and claims to have had sex reassignment surgery in Canada. The Clarksville Leaf Chronicle reported that she had officials legally …
A Terrible Splendor: Three Extraordinary Men, a World Poised for War, and the Greatest Tennis Match Ever Played
Reviewed By JAY JENNINGS
“A Terrible Splendor: Three Extraordinary Men, a World Poised for War, and the Greatest Tennis Match Ever Played“
By Marshall Jon Fisher
Crown, 321 pages, $25
As was true every year since Wimbledon’s tennis stadium was built in 1922, the grass at Centre Court in the summer of 1937 had been worn to brown patches at the baseline and service line during tournament play. Players started, stopped and skidded hundreds of times during matches, and the grass could have used a break to recover after the Wimbledon championships ended in early July. Two weeks later, though, on July 20, the players who had faced each other in the final there were back again. Don Budge, a 22-year-old American, and Baron Gottfried von Cramm of Germany, 28, were scheduled to meet in the sport’s premiere team competition, the Davis Cup.
Budge and Cramm were competing in what was essentially a semifinal to determine whether the U.S. or Germany would go to the challenge-round final against England. The match normally would have been staged on Court No. 1, but in a tribute to the renown of the two players, Wimbledon officials moved it to Centre Court. The American star, who had honed his serve and backhand to almost untouchable sharpness, made a likely favorite for the British, since he was taking on the representative of the increasingly bellicose German nation. But the crowd was on Cramm’s side: England was already set to play in the final round, and the fans were hoping that the Germans would beat the formidable American team, giving England a better shot at the cup.
Cramm had other supporters that July day, but their backing sent a chill through him: Nazi officials sitting in the royal box expected him to win for the glory of the fatherland. A victory would also reassure them about his patriotism. The German star had refused to join the Nazi Party, and in April he had been interrogated by the Gestapo regarding allegations of homosexual activity — a crime in Nazi Germany. The handsome, aristocratic Baron von Cramm desperately needed to redeem himself against the homely young American who had learned to play tennis on public courts in California. Cramm’s prospects were not encouraging: In the Wimbledon final, Budge had beaten him easily in straight sets.
But then the match began, and spectators and players alike soon realized that an extraordinary competition of skill and guile and endurance was under way. James Thurber, the tennis-besotted writer for The New Yorker magazine was on hand, and he would later describe the Budge-Cramm five-set marathon as “the greatest match in the history of the world.” Read the rest of this WSJ Review. Learn more about A Terrible Splendor: Three Extraordinary Men, a World Poised for War, and the Greatest Tennis Match Ever Played.
The 11th annual Tel Aviv Gay Pride parade this summer will feature an event organizers believe to be the first ever for such an event anywhere in the world and certainly in Israel – two weddings, one of a gay couple and one of a lesbian pair.
A campaign will be launched on the Web site gogay.co.il seeking couples interested in being wed as part of the event to submit their candidacy.
A committee at the city’s gay community center will determine which two couples will participate in the historic event.
“The idea began with the thought that in the framework of the [city's] centennial celebrations, we wanted to do something substantive and deep to advance the community’s agenda,” said Yaniv Weizman, the adviser to Tel Aviv-Jaffa Mayor Ron Huldai on gay affairs and a Rov Ha’ir city council member.
“The idea is to wed both a gay and lesbian couple on one of the stages during the parade,” he said, adding that the right to marry stands at the top of the gay community’s agenda, particularly as Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party has raised awareness of civil union rights. See TA Gay Pride parade to swing to the sound of the ‘Wedding March’