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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Gay News From 365Gay.com 

If you have the time, write him and thank him for his courage and conviction.

Gay News From 365Gay.com

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Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Queer Grad Student Mixer 

Thanks to Terri, another of our new members, we have news of the upcoming Queer Graduate Student Mixer this Friday, October 1st, at Club Cafe, from 7-9 pm. The event is monthly during the school year, and this Friday is the third anniversary of the event. The mixer is for all queer and queer-friendly grad students in the Boston area, so get out there, mix, mingle and network your little hearts out!

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Judiciary and Elections 

Human Rights Campaign president Cheryl Jacques and Lambda Legal exec. director Kevin Cathcart have published a joint statement on the importance of this year's election on the future of our judiciary, particularly on GLBT issues. The article opens with contrasting statements of Justice Anthony Kennedy and Judge Robert Bork, and continues with some recent events relating to a variety of cases, such as the protests against "activist" judges.

The statement is in part to announce the HRC's publication of Justice For All. According to HRC, "the publication clearly outlines the unique relationships between gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and allied voters, legislators and judges." They also have an entertaining web movie about the importance of voting, the judicial nomination and approval process, and constitutional interpretation.

Lambda Legal also has a separate campaign focusing on educating Americans on the issue of "activist judges" and how to counter some of the commonly used arguments.

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DeMint Senate Campaign Worker "Admonished" 

Three term U.S. Representative from South Carolina Jim DeMint is currently the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, and his campaign was recently brought under the spotlight (link via QueerDay) due to an e-mail error by his campaign Director of Operations, Ginny Allen.

Both DeMint and Democratic opponent Inez Tenenbaum had been invited by the Central Savannah River Area Rainbow Alliance (CSRARA) to a town hall meeting to discuss "issues of interest to gay voters." Tenenbaum's campaign responded that a representative would attend, but DeMint's campaign did not reply, so CSRARA chair Lisa Hall sent a follow up e-mail inquiry. Ginny Allen replied to Hall, but apparently thought she was forwarding it to someone else in the campaign. The message was as follows:
“Come on, fag, give this dike a reply,” Allen wrote.

Hall was not amused by the faux pas.

The Congressman sent a written apology for the "extremely inappropriate remarks" to Hall:
“Mrs. Allen’s remarks do not reflect my beliefs or the character of the campaign,” DeMint wrote. “I am running a positive campaign of ideas, and that includes personal respect for others.”

He assured Hall that Allen had received been admonished, and DeMint's campaign director stated that Allen had been "written up," meaning that another problem would mean termination.

Given DeMint's adamant stances against gay-related issues and homosexuality in general, I don't find it a stretch of imagination to believe that had the e-mail remained in house as intended, it would have been met with a laugh. The following is from one of DeMint's Issues pages, highlighted on his Congressional website:

I have always opposed special contracts for homosexuals, homosexual civil unions and homosexual marriages because it is impossible for society to grant special rights to homosexuals without also legitimizing or endorsing the homosexual lifestyle.

The law is our protector, but it is also our instructor. Granting special rights to homosexuals, on the state or federal level, sends the wrong message to our children.

Sociological studies have consistently shown that homosexual unions are harmful to homosexuals and society as a whole.

Traditional marriage, on the other hand, produces more societal benefits than any other system or institution devised by man.


There's also his "Protect"ad on his campaign website, in which the first portion is about protecting America from terrorists, and the second part is about protecting marriage from homosexuals. Nice equation - can't understand where Ms. Allen got the idea that her e-mail was acceptable. Sounds like DeMint is modeling his political strategies after Tom DeLay's.

A copy of the original e-mail and the apology can be viewed at CSRARA's website. I should note that although the article about the incident quoted the e-mail as including the word "fag," the copy posted at CSRARA appears to have the word "farg," which I might guess is the uncapitalized name of the person to whom she thought she was forwarding the message. She still uses (the misspelled) "dike" in reference to Hall, however.

The apology letter reveals another mystery. Rep. DeMint issues a second apology for an e-mail that he sent:
I also apologize for the email that I sent. I was directing my campaign staff to act in a courteous and respectful manner in addressing the concerns in the email. However, I was responding on my Blackberry and did not see the original email and did not realize that the derogatory comment had been made.

I wonder what was in that e-mail? And why hasn't the Member of Congress or his staff learned two of the most important lessons in e-mail usage:
  1. Never put anything in e-mail that you wouldn't want someone other than the intended recipient to read. It can and likely will be forwarded to others, who will forward it to still more others.
  2. Alway check the address before you hit Send.

Oh yeah, and actually treat people with respect.


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Sunday, September 26, 2004

MLGBA Reception 

Courtesy of one of our new first years, we've received a reminder of the annual Mass. Gay and Lesbian Bar Association and GLAD Wine & Cheese Reception that's coming up this Tuesday, September 28 from 6:00-7:30. More info at the MLGBA Events page, including directions and map to Greenberg Traurig LLP at One International Place. The featured speaker will be Mass. Appeals Court Justice Barbara Lenk.

I'm glad to see it's on a Tuesday this year, so evening students can attend!

UPDATE: Several of us will be going as a group, and will be departing the NESL lobby at 5:30. See you there, and bring your umbrellas!



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Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Study on Don't Ask, Don't Tell 

A new study has been released on GLB (no mention of T) military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. More information here. The study, published by UCLA's Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military, is titled "Gays and Lesbians at War: Military Service in Iraq and Afghanistan Under 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell, '" can be found here.

The study was announced last week, and now additional reaction is starting to be published. This MercuryNews.com article mentions that the author and one of the subjects (former Army Ranger Brian Hughes) met with congressional staff in Washington this week to discuss Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

DOD spokesman Army Lt. Col. Joe Richardson criticizes the findings of the study, stating that the study is based on anectdotal reports, and that the DOD has not heard any criticism as is mentioned in the study. He believes that Don't Ask, Don't Tell works as intended. If the intention was to keep skilled personnel out of the military, and to impair the functioning of skilled personnel who are in the military, then yeah, I guess it's working as intended.

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Thursday, September 16, 2004

Lavender Law 2004 

This year's annual conference of the National Lesbian and Gay Law Foundation and the National Lesbian and Gay Law Association will be held in Minneapolis from September 30 to October 2. There will be panels, symposia, courses and plenary sessions, as well as a career fair. The keynote speaker will be Evan Wolfson, of Freedom to Marry, and who this year was named one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world. You can register for Lavender Law 2004 online here.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Gay El Salvadoran May Get Relief Under Convention Against Torture 

QueerDay.com reports on a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision which determined that an immigration judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals erred in ruling that Luis Reyes-Reyes could not have relief from deportation under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) because he had not alleged that he had been tortured by an El Salvadoran government official, but instead claimed his abuse had been at the hand of private individuals. At the age of 13 he had been kidnapped, beaten and raped because he is gay, and he was threatened with reprisal if he reported the incident. He left the country at age 17 (in 1979), and has been living illegally in the United States since that time, living as a woman for many of the intervening years.

While the court determined that it lacked jurisdiction on the asylum question under 8 U.S.C. Section 1158(a)(1) because Reyes-Reyes had to have filed such a claim within one year of arrival in the country, it did have jurisdiction to review the lower courts' decisions on the CAT claim. The court determined that the lower decision had been based on the wrong legal standard, and that the petitioner did not have to show that he had suffered at the hands of a government official, but that if he had been tortured by private individuals, he needed to show that the action had been taken with the government's "consent or acquiescence," and that "willful acceptance or willful blindness" on the part of the government would suffice.

The case is remanded to the Board of Immigration Appeals.

The 18-page opinion, written by Judge M. Margaret McKeown, can be found here. The Metropolitan News-Enterprise has this summary of the decision. The audio file of the arguments can be downloaded here.

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US Immigration Policy on Transgender Marriage 

The Empty Closet reports (via QueerDay) that GenderPAC is protesting a recent policy announcement by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS), a subset of the Office of Homeland Security. The policy will bar recognition of:
"any marriage in which either party has changed or plans to change their sex.
The policy would prevent foreign spouses from obtaining immigration rights in marriages — or engagements to be married — where one spouse is transgender and either one is an American citizen."

A memo approving the policy stated that although recognizing such marriages would be the most consistent approach, such an approach would be "politically controversial."

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Tuesday, September 14, 2004

NGLTF on Girlie Men 

I came across this press release from Matt Foreman, Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and it made me smirk.

It's an open letter to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in response to his "economic girlie men" comment during his address to the Republican National Convention. When I clicked on the link I was expecting an analysis of the issue of stereotyping, the difference between a satire of a character and actually making such statements, etc. Instead he took another approach - that girlie men, contrary to his comparison to "pessimistic critics," are typically "hopeless optimists," and he cites icons to make his point:
I've never known girlie men to be pessimistic about much of anything. Think of our leading girlie men icons - Liberace, Paul Lynde, Charles Nelson-Reilly, Freddy Mercury, Nathan Lane, and Harvey Fierstein - all hopeless optimists, smiling and fighting on in the face of adversity.
Foreman then speculates that perhaps Schwarzenegger meant to suggest that the critics "BE girlie men."

It's refreshing to see a sense of humor being used as a tool while still making a serious statement.

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National Black Justice Coalition Supports Marriage Equality 

The National Black Justice Coalition unveiled their new print ad in support of marriage equality for gay couples at the 34th Annual Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference. From the press release:
The print advertisement features photos depicting Black gay and lesbian families and urges African-Americans to resist discrimination in all forms, especially against gays and lesbians. NBJC's advertisements also focus on building opposition to conservative attempts to write discrimination into constitutions around the country.

NBJC also organized a breakfast for conference attendees, together with the Gill Foundation, Human Rights Campaign and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and also had a booth in the exhibit hall. A copy of the ad can be found here. A copy of their first ad can be found here.

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Friday, September 10, 2004

Florida Foster Parents 

This week a gay couple won a suit to retain custody of two girls, after the state had attempted to overrule the foster placement agency's recommendation that the couple should be granted long-term custody. Over the years the two men have fostered 29 children, and had had particular success with this particular placement. One of the girls had been in 17 homes in two months, and had a history of emotional problems and violent outbursts. Since last year the children have both thrived, which led the agency to recommend the long-term placement. Florida law bars gay men or lesbians from adopting children, although they can be foster parents.

In ruling for the couple, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Irene Sullivan not only found in their favor, but heaped praise on them for their dedication and skill, and recommended them as role models for other foster parents. From 365Gay.com:
"In her ruling Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Irene Sullivan denied the state motion to reopen the case saying that the state owes the two men "a debt of gratitude".
"I'm going to personally thank Dad and Daddy here, for in their way, stopping the cycle of abuse," Sullivan said. She even suggested the state use the men to train other foster parents. "It's not just love, it's love, experience, background, intelligence. They seem to have it all," Sullivan said of the couple."
The state is reviewing the ruling before deciding whether to appeal.

In related news, the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar Association is working to win over enough support from the other Sections to support an effort to lobby the Florida legislature to repeal the nation's only complete ban on adoption by gay adults.

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Wednesday, September 08, 2004

No Log Cabin Endorsement 

Advocate.com reports that the national board of the Log Cabin Republicans has voted 22-2 not to endorse George Bush in the presidential campaign. The group's bylaws allow them only to endorse or not endorse the Republican candidate in a presidential election, so don't look for their endorsement to land on John Kerry.

An official announcement is expected from LCR today at noon.
******
UPDATE: 10:30 am - Something is up with Blogger's publishing process today, so this post of breaking news I tried to publish at 6:30 this morning is now out of date. Log Cabin has officially announced that they will not be endorsing President Bush.

Hopefully this updated post will be published sometime before the actual elections...

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Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Same Sex Harassment Cases 

ACSBlog posted yesterday on a recent Montana Supreme Court decision which denied the sexual harassment claim of a male worker against his male colleagues. Blogger Brian Simmonds compares the outcome of Campbell v. Garden State Plumbing with the U.S. Supreme Court's 1998 decision in Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services. Oncale was the case which held that Title VII prohibits workplace same-sex harassment. Links to the related court documents can be found in the ACS post.

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OUTLaws Social Event 

Our first social gathering of the semester will be this Friday, September 10, from 5 pm until whenever, at Club Cafe. Come one, come all, and join the fun! Club Cafe is just a few blocks from NESL. Directions can be found here. Hope to see you there!

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Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Breakaway Churches and Ownership 

Today's Advocate.com has a short news item on three Los Angeles area churches which have broken away from the Episcopal Church, largely over the confirmation of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire last year. A number of conservative parishes have objected to a gay man being placed in this position of church authority. The current news is about the ongoing dispute over the parish property and assets, over which the Los Angeles Episcopal Diocese is asserting ownership. The parishes dispute this.

This summer LegalAffairs.org had an in depth article, Exodus. Numbers. Judges. on this story and how it is unfolding in other parishes around the country. Included is history, current issues and the authority given to church law by the secular courts.

UPDATE: Interestingly, a lawsuit has been filed here in Massachusetts, but with rather different circumstances. The Archdiocese of Boston is closing 82 churches this year, but the parishioners at St. Albert the Great in Weymouth are fighting the decision. They are at this time engaged in a sit-in, and have filed suit claiming that the church building and assets belong to the members of the church, not the Archdiocese. The results of these different cases, one in which the Church hierarchy wants to keep the property (but the parishioners want out of the fold), and the other in which the Church wants to get rid of it (while the parishioners want to stay with the church).

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