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Fox News blasts Arizona’s “Jim Crow laws for homosexuals”

"I don't know why you would want to bring Jim Crow laws back to the forefront for homosexuals."

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25
Feb
2014

Mayor would welcome Arizona’s LGBT residents

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Baltimore, gay pride, gay news, Maryland, Washington Blade, LGBT residents

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. In discussing the vetoed legislation in Arizona that would have allowed business owners to discriminate against gays and lesbians on religious grounds, she invited LGBT residents from Arizona to move to Baltimore even though Arizona has better weather.

“On balance, I think the LGBT community would be better off, save the weather, we can’t promise you the weather, but better off in Baltimore. I’m more than happy to deal with the welcome. I think it’s a much friendlier place. It burns me up to know that a community that has given so much, particularly for the Democratic Party, is under siege. It’s 2014.

“We have a great LGBT community in Baltimore.  I’ve been a big supporter to the first LGBT, the same-sex marriage in the state right after New Year’s. And there’s no war going on in Baltimore.”

05
Mar
2014

Evans says Ariz. should lose Super Bowl over anti-gay measure

Jack Evans, Washington Blade, gay news

D.C. Council member and mayoral candidate Jack Evans said Arizona should not get the 2015 Super Bowl if the state’s anti-gay law is enacted. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Council member and mayoral candidate Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) is calling on the National Football League to move the 2015 Super Bowl out of Arizona if the governor signs legislation named by critics as the “turn away the gay” bill.

Gay rights advocates and the ACLU have said if the bill is enacted into law, it would allow businesses to deny services to gay, lesbian or transgender customers on grounds that doing business with them violates their deeply held religious beliefs.

“It is unconscionable to think that America’s largest and most celebrated sporting event could be held in a state that discriminates as a matter of law,” Evans said in a statement released on Tuesday.

“Stadiums bring together thousands of people of diverse backgrounds by hosting events like the Super Bowl and are designed to boost local businesses and create jobs,” he said. “Arizona doesn’t deserve that benefit if its leaders single out the LGBT community and their supporters by declaring they are not welcomed.”

Gov. Jan Brewer (R-Ariz.) has said she has yet to decide whether to sign the measure, which the Arizona Legislature approved last week.

Although the bill doesn’t mention the words “gay,” or “sexual orientation,” it expands the state’s definition of the exercise of religion to allow an individual, a religious group or business to deny services based on religious belief. Opponents believe the bill would lead to discrimination against transgender people as well as gays and lesbians.

25
Feb
2014

Panel of journalists, activists tackles outing, Russia, ENDA

Kevin Naff, Thom Senzee, Mandy Carter, Sarah Blazucki, Rob Smith, Adam Moore, Will Walters, journalists, gay news, Washington Blade, outing

Panelists included (left to right) Kevin Naff, Thom Senzee, Mandy Carter, Sarah Blazucki, Rob Smith, Adam Moore and Will Walters. (Photo courtesy of Thom Senzee)

Last week’s engagement at the National Press Club of the “LGBTs In The News” panel series, currently on a nationwide tour, revealed differences in opinion about the ethics of outing.

Comprised of leaders from the fields of journalism, entertainment and activism, the panel also shed light on the need for greater opportunities for LGBT actors and broadcast personalities and for better coverage of people of color at the front lines of the LGBT-equality movement.

Citing a landmark report his organization released last year, which was researched and compiled by the Williams Institute at UCLA, SAG-AFTRA’s national director of EEO and diversity, Adam Moore noted that the entertainment industry in the U.S. is the “most visible workplace on Earth,” and that as LGBT actors and media professionals gain parity in job opportunities, the entertainment industry and news business can lead by example as models of equal opportunity.

“We’ve already come a long way in our industries,” said Moore. “But you might be surprised how far we still have to go. This is an industry that is still run by a lot of very traditional, very conservative and highly risk-averse people at the top.”

Perhaps surprisingly, the controversy surrounding the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi vis-à-vis Russia’s anti-gay-propaganda law was, for all intents and purposes, only modestly grazed as a point of discussion during the panel.

However, passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act was a hot topic among the panelists.

“What I believe, and as Arizona Governor Jan Brewer learned recently, corporations that have already instituted non-discrimination policies for LGBT workers are inclined to put pressure on congress to pass ENDA,” said panelist Will Walters, whose civil rights education organization, FreeWillUSA is a major sponsor of the panel series. “Ironically, big business may force ENDA to a ‘yes’ vote in the long run.”

The discussion, which was also sponsored by the Washington Blade and SAG-AFTRA (formerly the Screen Actors Guild) and held in the National Press Club’s Edward R. Murrow Room, soon turned to the enduring question of whether it is ethical for, or even incumbent upon, reporters to disclose secretly gay public figures’ sexual orientation.

“If you’re a private citizen with no public persona, that’s one thing,” Blade editor, Kevin Naff said. “However, there’s an entirely different set of rules that are specific to people in the public eye. They’ve chosen a path in the limelight and they are fair game—especially when they’re hurting other gay people and being hypocritical at the same time.”

According to Naff, ultimately it matters not whether a closeted public figure is hostile to the cause of LGBT equality.

“If they’re a public figure, reporting their sexual orientation is fair game,” he said. “If you’re in the public eye, this is part of what you signed up for.”

But author-activist and Iraq war veteran, Rob Smith disagreed.

“It’s not up to me to tell someone, even if they are against us publicly, ‘you’re going to be outed whether you like it or not,’” he said. “I’m sorry, but that’s not right; and it hurts us all in the long run.”

At least one other panelist, civil rights leader Mandy Carter, agreed with Smith.

“It can cause all kinds of damage in a person’s life to be outed, including loss of career and even suicide,” said Carter, who is co-founder of the National Black Justice Coalition. “I’m not going to be the one to decide for you whether or not you should come out of the closet.”

Working with other individuals and organizations, not least among them, Walter Naegle, surviving partner of the late Bayard Rustin, Carter has been a key figure in helping increase awareness about Rustin’s role alongside civil rights activist, A. Philip Randolph as chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

There was consensus among all of the panelists about the importance of educating the world about Bayard Rustin, who was openly gay in the 1940s, ‘50s, ‘60s and beyond, but who—despite being among Dr. King’s closest advisers—was kept out of the public eye as much as possible for fear that the Civil Rights movement might be “tarnished” by Rustin’s homosexuality.

All of the panelists agreed that passing ENDA was probably the most important goal the LGBT community has on its plate at the moment. Yet, each agreed that passage of ENDA in 2014 is all but impossible.

“I think 2015 looks a little more plausible,” said National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association vice president of print and online media, Sarah Blazucki.

The next “LGBTs In The News” panel will be in late spring in New York City and will feature the theme: “LGBTs and Our Allies: We couldn’t do it without you.”

“New York promises to be a decidedly star-studded panel, as we expect to have some of the music industry’s most illustrious LGBT allies and community members on the panel,” said series founder and panel moderator, Thom Senzee, a freelance journalist.

“Stay tuned for a major announcement about our confirmed panelists for the New York engagement of LGBTs In The News.”

Visit lgbtsinthenews.com for more information.

07
Mar
2014

Hate State Update: Even Gingrich is now criticizing Arizona anti-gay law

Arizona opened up such a huge can of whoopass that even Fox News' Megyn Kelly and Brit Hume criticized the bill.

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26
Feb
2014

Marriage lawsuits filed in three more states

Sandra Newson, Denise Hueso, Miami, Florida, same-sex marriage, gay marriage, marriage equality

Sandra Newson and Denise Hueso of Miami are among the eight same-sex couples who are seeking legal recognition of their out-of-state marriages in Florida. (Photo courtesy of the ACLU of Florida)

Same-sex couples in three additional states this week have filed lawsuits seeking marriage rights.

Lambda Legal on Thursday filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Arizona on behalf of seven same-sex couples and two surviving spouses who are challenging the Grand Canyon State’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The same group on March 10 filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana on behalf of three gay couples seeking the ability to tie the knot in the Hoosier State.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Florida on Thursday also filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of eight same-sex couples seeking state recognition of their marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions. SAVE, a Miami-based LGBT advocacy group, is a plaintiff in the case.

Sandra Newsom of Miami, who married her partner of nearly 17 years, Denise Hueso, in Massachusetts in 2009, is among those who spoke at a Miami Beach press conference.

“When we moved back to Florida we knew we would be sacrificing some of the rights that we’d enjoyed when we lived in Massachusetts,” said Newsom. “Most families don’t have to choose between being in the place they call home and having equal treatment under the law, and they shouldn’t have to. If Florida would recognize our marriage, we wouldn’t have to either.”

Nelda Majors and Karen Bailey of Scottsdale, Ariz., who have been together for more than 55 years, are the lead plaintiffs in the Arizona case.

“We’re a committed, loving family, have raised two amazing girls together, have seen each other through thick and thin, in sickness and in health,” said Majors. “After five decades together, we want to celebrate and affirm our deep love for each other as other couples do, before our friends and family, through marriage.”

18 states and D.C. have extended marriage rights to same-sex couples.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver next month is scheduled to hold oral arguments in two cases challenging the constitutionality of state constitutional amendments that ban same-sex marriage in Oklahoma and Utah. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., in May is slated to hear a case that challenges Virginia’s gay nuptials ban.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco in the coming months is expected to hear oral arguments in a challenge to Nevada’s same-sex marriage ban. A federal appeals court in New Orleans will likely hear a similar case that challenges Texas’ gay nuptials prohibition after U.S. District Judge Orlando L. Garcia last month ruled the state’s same-sex marriage ban violates the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clauses.

A federal judge on Feb. 27 ordered Kentucky to begin recognizing same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions.

The Southern Poverty Law Center last month filed a lawsuit against Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban on behalf of a gay widower who lost his spouse less than three months after they exchanged vows in Massachusetts in 2011. Same-sex couples in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Missouri, Oregon and other states have also filed lawsuits seeking marriage rights after the U.S. Supreme Court last June struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder last month announced the Justice Department will now recognize same-sex marriages in civil and criminal cases and extend full benefits to gay spouses of police offices and other public safety personnel – even in states that have yet to allow nuptials for gays and lesbians. Holder a few weeks later said state attorneys general do not have to defend same-sex marriage bans.

“I believe we must be suspicious of legal classifications based solely on sexual orientation,” he said during a Feb. 26 speech during the winter meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General in D.C. “We must endeavor – in all of our efforts – to uphold and advance the values that once led our forebears to declare unequivocally that all are created equal and entitled to equal opportunity.”

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) last month introduced a bill that would prohibit the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages in states where gays and lesbians cannot tie the knot.

13
Mar
2014

Hispanic Bar Assocation pulls conference from Arizona; JPMorgan, AmEx, Rick Scott condemn anti-gay law

And even GoDaddy, a notoriously Republican company, came out in opposition to SB1062 today.

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26
Feb
2014

A reality check from Uganda

Yoweri Museveni, Uganda, gay news, Washington Blade

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed into law a bill that imposes harsh sentences on LGBT Ugandans. (Photo by the U.K. Department for International Development; courtesy Wikimedia Commons).

Our movement for full equality for LGBT people continues to gain momentum. We’ve seen tremendous strides in terms of marriage equality (a total of 17 states now grant the freedom to marry) and most recently with the increased visibility of black LGBT public figures. But Uganda’s current crisis and the close call in Arizona remind us that we must remain vigilant—that despite the many trails being blazed, we are still very much in the heat of the battle and all is not won yet.

Basketball star Jason Collins recently made history as the first openly gay male player in a major sports league when he joined the Brooklyn Nets. Earlier this year, Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts spoke about her longtime girlfriend for the first time on national television. Trans legends-in-the-making Laverne Cox, breakout actress of the Netflix original series Orange is the New Black, hate crime survivor CeCe McDonald, and New York Times bestselling author Janet Mock are leading the national conversation around transgender equality.

On the policy front, a U.S. district judge ruled that Texas’ ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional. The Maryland State Senate recently passed the Fairness for All Marylanders Act, a bill that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity, which now heads to the House. And Washington, D.C. now requires insurance companies to provide health coverage to trans residents, including gender reassignment surgery.

Paints a pretty picture of progress, doesn’t it? Well, look a little closer.

Just this month alone, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed into law a bill that imposes harsh sentences on LGBT Ugandans; Arizona passed then vetoed a piece of legislation that would have made it legal for business owners to discriminate against LGBT customers; and the 2014 Olympics brought to light the persecution of our Russian brothers and sisters. This all happened in February, the shortest month of the year. Even worse, it happened on our watch.

Under Ugandan’s anti-gay law, anyone found guilty of repeated same-sex sexual acts will be sentenced to life in prison. President Museveni has cited “science” and other unfounded claims to justify this atrocious injustice against our black LGBT family overseas. Not only is it imperative that the U.S. Department of State expedite the asylum process for all Ugandans affected by this oppressive and inhumane law, it is critical that the U.S. take responsibility for and address its ties to homophobia in African countries. The truth is that when the radical right started losing ground on American soil, they invested their anti-LGBT tactics elsewhere and capitalized on a painful legacy of colonialism and white supremacy.

Addressing what is happening in Uganda goes deeper than threatening to pull U.S. foreign aid. Furthermore, our national response to what is happening in the East African nation and in countries like Nigeria speaks to our complacency and lack of urgency around matters that are literally life and death for black and brown LGBT bodies.

After Arizona’s legislature passed the controversial SB 1062, some Ugandans pointed out our hypocrisy. Everyone from local advocates to President Obama condemned the Ugandan bill, but we could barely get our own affairs together stateside. The biggest irony was the hundreds of activists that rallied and urged Gov. Jan Brewer to veto the Arizona legislation. Where were the crowds for our Ugandan brothers and sisters who will be trying to seek asylum?

It’s time we truly treat a threat to injustice anywhere with the gravity it deserves. It’s time we recognize that progress takes full partnership. Despite of our recent advancements, we still need all hands on deck, especially when it’s the lives of black LGBT people at stake—because chances are the level of outrage and action will be utterly delayed, if present.

National campaigns launched around the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, speaking against the country’s ban on so-called “LGBT propaganda.” And rightfully so. There are laws that limit adoption by same-sex couples and Russian President Vladimir Putin has equated LGBT people to pedophiles. But where was the mass mobilization when a Ugandan tabloid printed a list of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Ugandans with their photographs—a “witch hunt” reminiscent of the 2010 paper that ran both photos and addresses with the heinous headline “Hang Them?” Where was the global outcry?

That is why here at the National Black Justice Coalition, we are revising our institutional policy to take a stand internationally. We have begun turning directly to advocates abroad and asking what is the international support that they need. Going forward, increasing acceptance and respect for black LGBT people in every corner of the globe will guide the organization’s agenda as we continue to build a safer and more inclusive nation and world.

Our movement has certainly come a long way but we have so much further to go. Uganda is our reality check. And it doesn’t get realer than that.

Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks serves as executive director and CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition, a national civil rights organization dedicated to empowering black LGBT people. For more information, visit nbjc.org.

19
Mar
2014

Arizona gay marriage ban challenged

Jan Brewer, Republican Party, Arizona, gay news, Washington Blade

Gov. Jan Brewer (R-Ariz.) (Photo by Gage Skidmore; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

PHOENIX—Four gay couples on Jan. 6 filed a federal class-action lawsuit that seeks to overturn Arizona’s same-sex marriage ban.

“We are asking for relief on behalf of all married and unmarried same-sex couples in Arizona,” attorney Shawn Aiken told the Arizona Republic. “Now is the time to take up this issue.”

The lawsuit names Gov. Jan Brewer and Attorney General Tom Horne as defendants.

Arizona voters in 2008 approved a state constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The U.S. Supreme Court in June declined to hear Brewer’s appeal that asked the justices to allow her to ban state employees from receiving benefits for same-sex partners.

Neighboring New Mexico is among the 18 states and D.C. that have extended marriage rights to same-sex couples.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 6 issued a stay on same-sex marriages in Utah pending the outcome of an appeal of U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby’s decision last month that struck down the Beehive State’s constitutional amendment that bans gay nuptials.

08
Jan
2014

BREAKING: Arizona governor vetoes ‘turn away the gay’ bill

Jan Brewer, Republican Party, Arizona, gay news, Washington Blade

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (Photo by Gage Skidmore; courtesy Wikimedia Commons).

Following a firestorm of opposition from LGBT advocates, Republican leaders and business leaders, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced on Wednesday she vetoed a controversial bill that would have allowed individuals to refuse to serve prospective customers on religious grounds.

“After weighing all of the arguments, I have vetoed Senate bill 1062 moments ago,” Brewer told reporters.

Critics said the measure would have enabled businesses to individuals to refuse services to LGBT people out of religious concerns.

Brewer said she vetoed the legislation after taking “the necessary time to make the right decision,” touting her record protecting religious freedoms in the state.

“Senate bill 1062 does not address a specific or pressing concern related to religious liberty in Arizona,” Brewer said. “I have not heard one example in Arizona where business owner religious liberty has been violated. The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences.”

Noting that she had called for a responsible budget and a child protections when speaking before the legislature last month, Brewer chided lawmakers for making SB 2016 “the first policy bill to cross my desk.”

“To supporters of this legislation, I want you to know that I understand long-held norms about marriage and family are being challenged as never before,” Brewer said. “Our society is undergoing many dramatic changes. However, I sincerely belief that Senate Bill 1062 has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve.”

Following her announcement, Brewer posted a picture of her vetoing SB 1062 via her Twitter account.

 

The announcement made Brewer strange bed fellows with LGBT advocates, who praised her for rejecting the legislation.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said Brewer “spared her state” from a law that would have enabled discrimination.

“The bipartisan outpouring of opposition to this bill is all the proof you need that this country isn’t turning backwards,” Griffin said. “Gov. Brewer did the right thing in stopping this assault on businesses and the LGBT community and we call on her and the legislature — and governors and legislators in other states — to resist any attempt to give license to discrimination.”

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, commended Brewer for vetoing the legislation.

“We thank Gov. Brewer for her decision to veto this outrageous measure — a law that if enacted would be bad for Arizona people and the Arizona economy,” Carey said. “In doing so, she has stopped a bill that both cynically uses religion as a smokescreen to justify discrimination and insults people of faith who feel that discrimination is morally wrong. This decision sends a clear message that extremism is totally unacceptable to people of all political persuasions.”

Erin Ogletree, president of Log Cabin Republicans of Arizona, said the veto is a watershed moment that “signaling that Arizonans and all people of goodwill” don’t support discrimination.

“It is also a loud wake-up call to the Republican Party,” Ogletree said. “We do best when we champion the freedom and rights of all individuals. It is time to refocus on being the party of limited, competent, and accountable governing that welcomes everyone.”

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce, Apple and the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee are among the myriad of organizations and businesses that called upon Brewer to veto Senate Bill 1072. U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also urged the Arizona governor not to sign the measure.

Tony Perkins, president of the anti-gay Family Research Council, nonetheless expressed disappointment that Brewer vetoed the bill, saying she “yielded to the cultural bullies.”

“This measure should have been a political no-brainer and only went down because people either chose to ignore the plain language of the bill or refused to read it altogether,” Perkins said. “Apparently, they’re graduates of the Pelosi School of Policy, where they dispose of bills before they find out what’s in them.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday the legislation sounds “pretty intolerant,” but the White House never issued a full-throated opposition to the bill. No LGBT advocates called on Obama to speak out against the legislation as some said his opposition could have in fact influenced Brewer to sign the bill into law.

As the Washington Blade previously reported, the Arizona bill is part of a national trend of movement on state bills aimed at expanding the exercise to religion to allow discrimination against LGBT people. Other bills are pending in Mississippi and Kansas and others has been defeated in Maine and South Dakota.

Michael K. Lavers contributed to this report.

27
Feb
2014