Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Governor Paterson To Sign Executive Order Prohibiting Discrimination in State Employment on the Basis of Gender Identity
Dear friends:

Well, you just can't keep a good story down. Today, the New York Times broke the story about Governor David Paterson's policy announcement affecting transgender New Yorkers. Tomorrow, Governor Paterson will sign an executive order prohibiting discrimination in state employment on the basis of gender identity. New York will become the seventh state in the nation to offer public employees such protection. We've included more information in our press statement below, which we issued after the Times broke the story.

We're sorry if this message seems less polished than our ordinary communications, but we wanted to get this news out to our friends and supporters as quickly as possible. We'll have more information on our web site later today, and will post a copy of the Governor's Order, as well as pictures and video from the signing ceremony, on our web site tomorrow.

Please come to the Center tomorrow at 10:30 (doors open at 10) to thank the Governor for taking this bold step on behalf of transgender equal rights. You can get more information about tomorrow's event here.

We're grateful to our friends and allies who have helped make this day possible. And we extend our heartfelt thanks to Governor David Paterson, who has proven himself to be a champion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equal rights.

We hope you enjoy this news.

Best wishes,

Michael Silverman
Executive Director
December 15, 2009

Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund Hails Governor Paterson's Signing Tomorrow of Executive Order Barring Discrimination Against Transgender State Employees

New York State To Become Seventh State to Offer Job Protections to Transgender Public Employees

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) hails New York State Gov. David A. Paterson's planned signing tomorrow of an executive order barring discrimination against transgender state employees. New York will become the seventh state to protect public employees from discrimination based on gender identity or expression, after Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

"Like everyone else, transgender employees deserve to be judged on their ability to do the job, and not on who they are," TLDEF executive director Michael Silverman said. "This executive order will ensure that hard-working transgender employees of New York State can work without fear of discrimination, and provide for themselves and their families," he added. “We applaud Governor Paterson for taking this important step for transgender equal rights.”

Transgender people face tremendous discrimination in the workplace. Forty-seven percent of transgender people report being fired, or denied a job or promotion just because of who they are. In one recent Florida case, 17-year-old Zikerria Bellamy was denied a job at a McDonald's restaurant because she is transgender. Miss Bellamy applied online for the job, but after managers learned that she is transgender, she received a voicemail message from one of the them telling her, "You will not get hired. We do not hire fa**ots." TLDEF filed a complaint on Miss Bellamy's behalf on Dec. 7.

Few protections exist for transgender people who experience employment discrimination. In 38 states, there is no law protecting people from being fired because they are transgender. In New York, while a number of municipalities protect transgender workers from on-the-job discrimination, there is no statewide law offering such protection. The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, which would add gender identity and expression to the state's non-discrimination law, has been repeatedly introduced and passed by the state Assembly, but it has never been passed by the state Senate.

Federal law similarly offers no job protection for transgender people. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would address discrimination in the workplace by making it illegal to fire, refuse to hire, or refuse to promote an employee based on the person's gender identity or sexual orientation. ENDA has been stalled in the House of Representatives despite demands by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans that Congress take swift action to pass the legislation.

"We applaud Gov. Paterson for recognizing that transgender New Yorkers should have the chance to earn a living and provide for their families without being refused a job or fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their ability to do the job," Silverman added.
marriage equality has just passed in Washington, D.C.!
It's a huge victory, and you should be proud – your support allowed us to invest tremendous staff time and resources into this fight. We did it, and I can't thank you enough.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

From the Office of the Moderator
Metropolitan Community Churches
For Immediate Release: 10 December 2009
Today, as the world marks International Human Rights Day and the anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, a document laying the foundation for the pursuits of human rights law around the globe, we of the Christian faith also mark the second week of Advent and reflect on the promise of the prophet Baruch that God will give a new name to the people of God, "Peace-through-Justice."

As political leaders and advocates for justice gather to demand an end to discrimination and violence against human beings marginalized because of diversities, Baruch's promise meets the world's cry for "peace on earth, good will among all."

Baruch's promise comes to a world where people from every nation, creed and culture need the kind of peace that passes all understanding and that can end our conflicts internally and externally. It comes to a world and its people in need of the inner peace of the soul --- the peace inside that will and can manifest itself outside, and that holds the possibility of ending the suffering of so many who live under the ravages of war, hatred, greed and violence.

Our challenges, as people of faith, remain many, I know. As we mark this time dedicated to ending discrimination and bringing peace, however, I am particularly mindful of the recent announcement by the President of the United States, Barack Obama, to escalate troop deployments to Afghanistan in the hope of ending eight years of violence and bloodshed in that part of our world.

I am also mindful of the widespread skeptism about this strategy, and believe that the uneasiness many of us share may in fact be a sign of hope that people who long for peace and who believe in the promise of universal good will are coming to doubt the efficacy of war or the promises of violence. I am hoping that the unsettled feeling many of us share, is a sign of our developing belief that violence on all levels --- interpersonal, communal and global --- can and must end. And I am praying that the violence Jesus was born into and that continues to claim so many victims --- poverty --- will become our collective battlefront. I am praying today that, as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has urged, we will join hands around the globe and commit to living together in equity and peace.

I am mindful and grateful for the fact that there are more organizations and individuals engaged in serious peacemaking than ever in the history of the world. More people give more time and money and resources to pursuing peace than ever before.

Many of us no longer believe that war or its resulting devastation and impoverishment are inevitable.

Many of us have hope for a new day, a new world.

We have hope for the promise of Advent --- "peace on earth, good will among all" --- coming to birth in our lifetimes.
It is with that hope in mind, on this day dedicated to the pursuit of universal human rights, that I ask all MCCers and people of faith around the globe to join me in praying for:

+ An end to the wars in Iraq, Afhanistan and Pakistan, and for the safety
of all in harm's way.

+ An increase in justice and the extension of human rights for all people,
especially LGBT people, those living with HIV/AIDS, those living in
poverty, refugees, and all whose lives have been torn apart by wars. May
just and right relationships bring the world to peace.

Join me in praying today that:

+ Every leader around the globe who is charged with making decisions
that promise to impact all of us, will do so with the pursuit of peace as
their ultimate goal.

+ Every person and nation trapped in the cycles of violence and counter-
violence, from Israel to Palestine to the Congo and Uganda, will find a
new way, a more promising path for sharing life together.

+ Every human being will use each moment as the moment to speak up
for and take risks for, and live and act for peace.

I call on MCCers around the globe and people of faith everywhere to pray with me today and every day of this Advent Season, as we honor the one crowned "Prince of Peace," for an end to the violence, terrorism and suffering so many know as their daily reality. Pray with me for that a new day of hope and promise will dawn on this earth and all its peoples.

+ The Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, Moderator
Metropolitan Community Churches

Monday, December 7, 2009

TLDEF Files Employment Discrimination Complaint with Florida Commission on Human Relations Against McDonald's for Refusing to Hire Transgender Woman

TLDEF today filed a Complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations against an Orlando McDonald's restaurant for refusing to hire 17-year-old Zikerria Bellamy because she is transgender. We want you to be the first to know.

On July 10, 2009, Zikerria applied online for a position as a Shift Manager or Crew Leader at McDonald's. On July 28, after managers at McDonald's learned that Zikerria is transgender, she received the following voicemail message from one of the managers:

Zikerria never received the job interview she sought. McDonald's refused to hire her.

Zikerria's story is all too common. Transgender people face tremendous discrimination in the workplace. According to a recent survey by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality, 47% of transgender people report being fired, or denied a job or promotion, just because of who they are.

Few protections exist for transgender people who experience employment discrimination. In 38 states, there is no law protecting transgender people from being fired because of who they are. Federal law similarly offers no job protection for transgender people.

In Florida, while no law explicitly addresses discrimination based on gender identity, administrative agencies in Florida have ruled that transgender people are protected by the Florida Human Rights Act's prohibitions on sex and disability discrimination. The Competitive Workforce Bill, which would add gender identity and sexual orientation to the Florida Civil Rights Act, was introduced in the Florida legislature on November 20.

At the federal level, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) (S.1584) would address discrimination in the workplace by making it illegal to fire, refuse to hire, or refuse to promote an employee based on the person's gender identity or sexual orientation at companies with fifteen or more employees. The legislation was introduced in the United States Senate on August 5, 2009. On November 5, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee held the Senate's first hearing on the latest version of ENDA. A version of ENDA was also introduced in the United States House of Representatives on June 24, 2009. The House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing on the measure on September 23. Little has happened since.

According to a 2007 survey, 72 percent of Americans agree that "fairness is a basic American value and employment decisions should be based solely on qualifications and job performance, including for transgender people." In a 2002 poll, 61 percent of those polled said that we need laws to protect transgender people from discrimination. President Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and has stated his belief that anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
What You Can Do


As you've done in the past, please help us spread the word about what happened to Zikerria. Let's do our best to make sure it never happens again. Post the voicemail on Facebook, tweet about it, write about it in your blogs and embed the voicemail there, too. The louder we raise our voices, the more people will listen!


We've joined with our friends and partners at organizations around the nation to demand that Congress take swift action to pass the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA). In light of continuing delays in the House of Representatives, we must state clearly and unequivocally: Passing basic job protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people must happen now.

Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202.224.3121 and ask to speak to your Representative (have your zip code handy and they'll help identify your member of Congress).

When you are connected with your Representative's office, give your name and your city and then let them know:

I am calling in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (H. R. 3017/S. 1584), which will protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from job discrimination. No one deserves to be fired from their job because of who they are. No more delays--it is time to pass ENDA.

You can also tell them that you've heard about Zikerria Bellamy's case. If you get voicemail instead of a person, leave a message - they count just as much as if you reach a staff member. You can call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you've called in the past, no problem. Call again.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

ENDA... (Yes Sylvia... we are still working on it!)

Pass ENDA Now - No More Delays!

Right now in this country, there is no federal legislation that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers from job discrimination - and that puts people at higher risk of poverty, lack of health care, homelessness and other factors that can increase vulnerability to HIV or progession to AIDS.

But the bill that would end this discrimination - the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 3017/S. 1584) - is being delayed in the House of Representatives!

22 national organizations just issued a joint release saying that this delay is unacceptable.

Tell Congress to end the delay! Tell Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, now! Flood congressional offices with calls and emails!

Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at: (202) 224-3121. Give the operator your zip code and ask to be connected to your Representative. Then, after leaving your message, hang up and call again to be connected to your two Senators.

Suggested voicemail message:

My name is _____ and I live in (your city, state).

As a person in the fight against HIV/AIDS, I am calling in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 3017/S. 1584), to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from job discrimination.

Job protections helps us fight HIV/AIDS so people have steady incomes and health care. Please pass ENDA immediately, without delay.

I can be reached at _______ (provide your phone number and your street address). Thank you.

Or send an email to your Representative and Senators by clicking here.

It only takes a moment and your action can help shape the future!

Thanks from all of us at CHAMP and our allies in United ENDA.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Call for Continued Dedication to the Fight for Human Equality


from Metropolitan Community Churches and The Fellowship
For Immediate Release: 4 December 2009

Leaders of Two Communions

Celebrating Washington, D.C. Marriage Equality Victory

Expressing outrage about the December 2nd NO vote on Marriage Equality by the New York State Legislature, The Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches, noted "Both Democrats and Republican are bowing to pressure from those opposed to human equality. As people of faith we believe Marriage Equality is a human rights issue, and one that dedication to the will of God demands we support."

"We are renewing our call to action," added Global Justice Team Chair, The Rev. Pat Bumgardner. "Today we are joining our voice to those of other human rights activists in calling all MCCers and our allies, as people of faith and conviction, to stand firm and not throw in the towel. We know that justice will prevail if we remain faithful to this good fight. Now is not the time to back away. Now is the time to let our legislators know that we are not giving up and that we will continue to press them to do the good and just thing."

While New York State's legislature moved to set back the march toward equality, the Council of the District of Columbia voted on Tuesday to affirm gay marriage in the District. Bishop Yvette Flunder of the Fellowship offered thanks to God for the courageous leaders in the District, and said, "This vote confirms what we knew to be true --- that the radically inclusive love of Jesus Christ knows no boundaries!"

The DC decision is subject to a second round of votes, and the possiblity of intervention by the Congress of the United States. Bishop Flunder and Elder Wilson together urged that people of faith recommit themselves to prayer and action in this interim period. "Perhaps establishing Marriage Equality in our nation's capital will be encouragement enough for states and communities around our nation to embrace this movement for justice universally," commented The Rev. Jim Merritt, Marriage Equality Coordinator for The Global Justice Team of MCC.

Elder Wilson concluded, "Although sobered by the setback, we know that in the end God's will for justice and equality will prevail and we will win."

For those interested in more information on how people of faith can help win the battle for Marriage Equality, contact: The Rev. Jim Merritt, Marriage Equality Coordinator for Metropolitan Community Churches at

This statement prepared in conjuction with The Global Justice Team of Metropolitan Community Churches,

The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Chair.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Scroll Down: The vote of each state senator is below. Please call your state senator to express your appreciation or disappointment for their vote on the marriage equality bill.

* Eric Adams (D) — YES
* Joseph Addabbo (D) — NO
* James Alesi (R) — NO
* Darrel Aubertine (D) — NO
* John Bonacic (R) — NO
* Neil Breslin (D) — YES
* John DeFrancisco (R) — NO
* Ruben Diaz (D) — NO
* Martin Malave Dilan (D) — YES
* Tom Duane (D) — YES
* Pedro Espada (D) — YES
* Hugh Farley (R) — NO
* John Flanagan (R) — NO
* Brian Foley (D) — YES
* Charles Fuschillo, Jr. (R) — NO
* Martin Golden (R) — NO
* Joseph Griffo (R) — NO
* Kemp Hannon (R) — NO
* Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D) — YES
* Shirley Huntley (D) — NO
* Craig Johnson (D) — YES
* Owen Johnson (R) — NO
* Jeffrey Klein (D) — YES
* Liz Krueger (D) — YES
* Carl Kruger (D) — NO
* Andrew Lanza (R) — NO
* Bill Larkin (R) — NO
* Kenneth LaValle (R) — NO
* Vincent Leibell (R) — NO
* Tom Libous (R) — NO
* Elizabeth Little (R) — NO
* Carl Marcellino (R) — NO
* George Maziarz (R) — NO
* Roy McDonald (R) — NO
* Hiram Monserrate (D) — NO
* Velmanette Montgomery (D) — YES
* Thomas Morahan (R) — NO
* Michael Nozzolio (R) — NO
* George Onorato (D) — NO
* Suzi Oppenheimer (D) — YES
* Frank Padavan (R) — NO
* Kevin Parker (D) — YES
* Bill Perkins (D) — YES
* Michael Ranzenhofer (R) — NO
* Joseph Robach (R) — NO
* Stephen Saland (R) — NO
* John Sampson (D) — YES
* Diane Savino (D) — YES
* Eric Schneiderman (D) — YES
* Jose Serrano (D) — YES
* James Seward (R) — NO
* Dean Skelos (R) — NO
* Malcolm Smith (D) — YES
* Daniel Squadron (D) — YES
* William Stachowski (D) — NO
* Toby Ann Stavisky (D) — YES
* Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D) — YES
* Antoine Thompson (D) — YES
* David Valesky (D) — YES
* Dale Volker (R) — NO
* George Winner (R) — NO
* Catherine Young (R) — NO

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Report of Injustice: LGBT youth in Detention

Hidden Injustice: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth in Juvenile Courts

Hidden Injustice is the first comprehensive report to examine the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth in juvenile courts nationwide. LGBT youth comprise a significant portion (up to 13%) of youth in detention, according to a recent study by Ceres Policy Research. Despite this compelling statistic, LGBT youth remain invisible to many juvenile justice professionals and are often treated unfairly and harshly in the justice system.

Drawing from first-hand accounts of more than 50 LGBT youth and in-depth interviews of more than 60 juvenile court judges, defense attorneys, prosecutors, probation officers, and detention staff from across the country, this groundbreaking report sheds light on the numerous barriers to fair and effective treatment of court-involved LGBT youth. The report also provides juvenile justice professionals, policymakers, and advocates with detailed practice and policy recommendations to help them address these problems head on.

Monday, November 16, 2009

MPowerment motivates activism in queer youth

By Frances Dinger

Share this article Published: Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Updated: Thursday, November 12, 2009

Via MPowerment

MPowerment volunteers assemble hundreds of safe-sex kits annually.
Capitol Hill has a lot to offer the adult LGBTQ community, be it through clubs, bars or bathhouses, but this leaves some members of the community asking what there is for queer youth.

MPowerment is part of the answer to the question.

The group has been with Lifelong Aids Alliance since 2001 as a program specifically for 18-22 year olds in Seattle’s LGBTQ community. The organization is modeled after prevention programs adopted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and offers fun youth activities as well as outreach to help educate the community and prevent the spread of HIV and STDs.

“Outreach is a big part of what we do,” says Ken Myers, Mpowerment outreach coordinator. “It’s really about going out into the community and sharing information.”

Mpowerment has a three-part approach to its outreach, focusing on venue specific events, community education in street outreach and the distribution of educational materials. Venue specific outreach sends members of its Core Team—the youth team responsible for planning MPowerment events— to 18-and-older nights at local businesses like Neighbors, where volunteers answer questions and hand out free safe-sex packets that include condoms, lubricant and information on disease prevention.

“I know what we do is helpful,” says Mehron Abdollmohammadi, junior English major and Core Team member since January 2009. “Sometimes we’ll go to an outreach venue we’ve been to before and someone will recognize one of us and say, ‘You’re that guy who gave me a condom. Because of that, I used one.’”

Street outreach tries to reach homeless queer youth, offering safe-sex packets and hygiene products, but the group is looking to offer more resources to street youth.

Since September, Myers and Donny Gerke, MPowerment supervisor and Seattle University alumnus, have been aiding the Core Team in putting together a resource guide for queer homeless youth. They are currently editing and reviewing the information before it is sent to print. Once the review process is complete, MPowerment plans to distribute the new pamphlet at the same time as a pamphlet on STDs other than HIV.

“[The pamphlet] could have been very doom and gloom if we let it,” Myers says. “We wanted to make this material empowering.”

The pamphlet for queer homeless youth was designed by three Core members and was funded by the Jeffirs Wood Foundation, a private foundation that is committed to providing opportunities for street youth and impoverished individuals. The pamphlet will include information on shelters, safe sex education and opportunities open to homeless youth.

“There is always a need for more resources,” Abdollmohammadi says. He feels there is a general deficiency in resources for queer youth in Seattle, but what the community needs most is access to comprehensive information. The group distributes safe-sex information to local coffee shops and has also found more creative ways to educate the community on HIV prevention.

One of MPowerment’s educational tools is “Censor This,” a quarterly zine. The publication features visual art as well as prose and poetry relating to LGBTQ issues and, like the rest of the groups outreach, focuses strongly on HIV prevention.

MPowerment is still negotiating its contract for the next two years. Gerke says the organization wants to extend its outreach into South Seattle. The organization recently received funds from King County because of its drug and alcohol education program, which addresses the increased sexual risk when sexual encounters are combined with substance abuse.

Monday, November 9, 2009

call your senator

We are one step away from making marriage equality a reality in New York State. The New York Assembly passed marriage equality legislation earlier this year and Governor Paterson has pledged to sign it, so the only step left is the New York Senate.

The Senate is scheduled to reconvene tomorrow, Tuesday, November 10, and marriage equality is on the agenda.

Take action today and call your state senator, Sen. Thomas Duane (518) 455-2451 . Politely tell Sen. Duane to vote for marriage equality.

Give the person who answers the phone your name and address, and then tell them that you want the senator to vote for marriage equality. These calls should only take a minute, but they are extremely important.

Even if you've already written or called your senator, make a final call today and ask your friends, family members and colleagues to do the same.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I'm sure you're feeling as disheartened as I am about the election in Maine. But if we crawl into a corner and lick our wounds, we're playing right into our opposition's hands. And today of all days, we can't afford to do that.

As we speak, the Senate is holding a hearing on the fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), and the House could hold its first important vote on ENDA in the coming weeks.

This bill would end a bitter injustice in our country: In 29 states, it's legal to fire someone because they're lesbian, gay, or bisexual; in 38 states, it's legal to fire someone for being transgender.
We need to make sure your representative's support stays strong – it's critical to passing this bill!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Gay Activist Rev. Steve Parelli Speaks Out

Source: OutTake, Monday, October 26, 2009

In this exclusive audio interview Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson chats with Steve Parelli, Executive Director of Other Sheep, a multicultural ecumenical Christian ministry working worldwide for the full inclusion of LGBT people of faith within their respective faith traditions. Parelli's current priority is to stop the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 which will impose the death penalty and prison on the Ugandan LGBT community. He is urging the evangelical community to email their evangelical leaders. "Tell evangelical leaders like Rick Warren to tell the-largely-evangelical Ugandan people to STOP the bill. Why tell Rick Warren? Because of his endorsement of the widely acclaimed 2006 Zondervan Africa Bible Commentary in which a featured article entitled "Homosexuality" by a Nigerian evangelical leader supports no toleration for homosexuals in Africa and says homosexuals are no better than beasts. This is the evangelical talk in Africa and Rick Warren of the USA and John Stott of England and Douglas Carew of Kenya have endorsed it." Email Rick Warren...

On a personal note, Steve, a graduate of Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan, had served the Faith Baptist Church of Sparta, New Jersey, as senior pastor for ten years when in 1997 he chose to leave the ministry to make a new life with his partner, Jose. Prior to leaving the ministry, Steve was in reparative therapy with Joseph Nicolosi, "ex-gay" support groups, an international male mentoring group and spiritual counseling, all with the purpose of "overcoming" his homosexual attractions. After leaving his now ex-wife and four children and establishing himself in a gay relationship, Steve was accordingly defrocked by the First Baptist Church of Sinclairville, New York. On May 31, 2009, Steve was ordained by Rev. Nancy Wilson, Moderator of the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC). Steve and his spouse Jose were legally married in Sacramento, California, August 25, 2008. They make their home in the Bronx, New York.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Victory! Appellate Court Strikes Down “Doctor's Note” Requirement for Transgender Name Changes

A New York State appeals court today struck down a lower court's requirement that transgender people seeking to change their names provide medical evidence of their need for the name change. The ruling was handed down in an appeal we filed on behalf of Olin Winn-Ritzenberg, a transgender man whose petition to change his name to Olin was denied by the lower court because he had failed to provide a letter from a doctor, therapist or social worker establishing his need to change his name.

But the appellate court wrote, "[t]here is no sound basis in law or policy to engraft upon the statutory provisions an additional requirement that a transgendered-petitioner present medical substantiation for the desired name change." The court's decision sends a powerful message that transgender people must be treated equally and that they cannot be subjected to different legal requirements than everyone else. People's names are fundamental to their identities. This decision confirms that each one of us has the right to be known by a name we choose. That decision can't be second-guessed by doctors, therapists or anyone else simply because someone is transgender.

Upon learning of the ruling, Olin said, "This means that I can finally change my name and move forward with my life. My gender transition has been a very personal journey, and no one is in a better position to decide that I need to change my name than I am."

We were lucky to have the assistance of some incredibly talented lawyers, including Brenna DeVaney, Benjamin Edwards, Daniel Gonen, and Janson Mao, who served with us as Olin's co-counsel. Daniel admirably argued the appeal. And our friends at Debevoise & Plimpton and Lambda Legal submitted a stellar brief in support of Olin's appeal. You can read the appeal brief we submitted on Olin's behalf here.

We'd be remiss if we failed to acknowledge Olin's perseverance throughout the long appeal process. Instead of complying with a lower court requirement that we all knew was unjust (and that had been imposed upon many other people), he chose to fight it, delaying his own name change for many months to finally put an end to the practice of subjecting transgender name change applicants to this burdensome and demeaning doctor's note requirement. Thank you, Olin!

Olin changed his name through TLDEF's Name Change Project, which provides free and low-cost name changes by matching transgender community members in New York City with lawyers in private practice who provide their services free of charge. If you or someone you know needs help with a name change, please contact us.

Many months ago, when we first filed this appeal, we asked the question, "Who Decides?" Who decides what your gender identity is? Doctors, government officials, and agency administrators? Or each one of us as autonomous individuals? After many months, we're very happy to have closed the circle with a victory for freedom and self-determination.

National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS).

As you know, CHAMP has been active in fight for a measurable and effective National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS).
We wanted to give you this important update:

The White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) has launched a website where you can submit testimony and/or supporting documents for consideration by the panel developing the NHAS.

The deadline for online submission is November 12, 2009

Urgent Alert - Organizations and Individuals: Sign-On Letter

Demand Withdrawal of Proposed Legislation in Uganda
Expanding LGBT Sanctions, Including DEATH PENALTY!

CHAMP urges you to support International HIV Prevention Justice


Send an e-mail to with the Subject: Here is my Name, City, State and Country for endorsement of the Uganda Letter

Thank you to the Global Forum on MSM and HIV for distributing a version of this alert:

As you may know, legislation in Uganda was introduced late last week that will greatly expand criminal penalties against the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Please join CANDLE in supporting LGBTQ people around the world this National Coming Out Day, and LGBTQ History Month.

We are proud to announce the launch of our new video "Straight Privilege" on our website.

Click Here to View the video:

Transgender Hate Crimes Provision

October 14, 2009

TLDEF's Efforts to Ensure Hate Crime Protections Featured in the New York Times
On Monday, the New York Times featured a story on TLDEF's efforts to ensure that bias-motivated attacks directed at the transgender community are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The article focused on a forum that we organized last week with the Anti-Violence Project, Brooklyn Law School, the Empire State Pride Agenda, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Make the Road New York, the New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy and Queens Pride House.
The panel featured TLDEF clients Roxanne Green, mother of slain transgender woman Lateisha Green, and Carmella Etienne, who was the victim of a bias-motivated attack this past summer in New York City. Both spoke powerfully about the impact that bias-motivated violence had on them, their families and their communities.
Hate-motivated crimes target more than just an individual. They target a community, and they're meant to frighten and intimidate members of that community - to make them fear for their safety on the streets where they live, work and socialize. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people continue to face tremendous amounts of bias-motivated violence. In 2008, more than 2,400 people reported being victims of hate violence motivated by anti-LGBT bias. Just this past weekend, 49-year-old Jack Price was beaten by two men in Queens who yelled anti-gay slurs. Only a few weeks ago, transgender woman NaNa Boo Mack was brutally stabbed and killed while walking with a friend on the streets of Washington, D.C. Her case remains unsolved.
In New York State, hate crime laws explicitly protect New Yorkers from attacks based on sexual orientation, but not gender identity or expression. At the federal level, LGBT people are excluded from hate crime laws. These exclusions send a dangerous message that members of the LGBT community are not entitled to the same level of protection as everyone else. Legislation that would remedy this lack of protection is pending in New York and at the federal level. We'll continue to do all we can to educate the public about the importance of comprehensive protection for all members of the LGBT community, and to ensure that state and federal laws fully protect all members of the LGBT community.

Over the course of the coming months, with legislation pending in Albany and in Washington, there will be many opportunities for each of us to make an impact. Please join with us in our efforts to ensure that all members of the LGBT community are equally protected in our state and federal hate crime laws. Together, we can make a difference.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Include LGBT Families in Immigration Reform

No one should have to choose between the person they love and their country. But discriminatory immigration policies do just that by denying LGBT couples the right to sponsor their same-sex partners for immigration.
The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) would remedy this injustice and allow U.S. citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their same-sex partners for family-based immigration.
New York Senator Chuck Schumer has been a strong supporter of this freestanding legislation to help these couples and their families. Right now, he and his staff are drafting comprehensive immigration reform legislation to be introduced this fall.

Click here to become involved in HRC's push or just call or write Chuck Schumer.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund Statement on Sentencing in Lateisha Green Trial

NEW YORK, NY - The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) today welcomed Judge William Walsh's sentencing of convicted killer Dwight R. DeLee to the maximum term of 25 years in prison in connection with the shooting death of Lateisha Green. Green, a 22-year-old African American transgender woman was shot and killed by DeLee on Nov. 14, 2008 in Syracuse, NY. On July 17, a 12-member jury found 20-year-old DeLee guilty of manslaughter in the first degree as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon. DeLee's conviction for committing a hate crime is the first involving the death of a transgender person in New York State. It is only the second such conviction in United States history. In addition to the sentence for manslaughter, DeLee was sentenced to a concurrent term of 3 1/2 to 7 years in prison on the weapon possession conviction.

"Today, a measure of justice has been delivered for Lateisha Green and her family with the imposition of the maximum sentence for this crime," said TLDEF Executive Director and attorney Michael Silverman. "While nothing can make up for the loss Lateisha's family has suffered, this sentence helps to bring some closure to Lateisha's family. The sentence sends a clear message that violence targeted at transgender people will be heavily penalized."

Silverman has been working with the family since Lateisha's death in November. He was on the ground in Syracuse throughout the trial working closely with Lateisha's family. TLDEF collaborated with its sister organizations, including the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the Empire State Pride Agenda and the Rainbow Alliance of Central New York.

"Transgender Americans continue to face a serious risk of violence and discrimination. African American transgender women are at particularly high risk," added Silverman. "Neither New York State law nor federal law includes gender identity or expression as hate crime categories and that sends a dangerous message that it is acceptable to leave part of our community vulnerable to hateful acts of violence simply because of who they are. We call upon our state and federal lawmakers to ensure adoption of transgender-inclusive legislation that will protect everyone regardless of their gender identity and gender expression."

Following the sentencing, Lateisha Green's family released this statement:

Today’s sentencing sends a clear message that violence motivated by anti-transgender bias is unacceptable and wrong. It affects everyone in a community and it has left many hurt and distraught. We can only hope that Teish’s story will prevent any more loss of life simply because someone is different.

It has been a little over nine months since Teish was taken away from us. On November 14, 2008, Dwight DeLee aimed a rifle and shot Teish. All it took was one bullet to pierce her heart. That one bullet ended Teish’s life and all of the possibilities that could have been a part of her future.

That one bullet took away our brave and beloved family member and friend. But it also pierced our hearts and left us all feeling fearful, sad and angry. All of our hopes and dreams that we had for Teish were taken away from us simply because Teish was transgender. One bullet shattered all of our lives.

Every possibility for Teish slipped away when Dwight DeLee shot and killed her. But today’s sentencing by the judge has left us to believe that new possibilities have replaced old ones. A possibility to begin a conversation for reconciliation and understanding in Syracuse. A possibility to pass state and federal laws that would protect everyone from this kind of violence. A possibility to share Teish’s story so that nobody will ever have to know the feeling of losing a child because of that child's gender identity.

We want to thank everyone who supported our family during this difficult process and helped us to share Teish’s story. No legal proceeding can provide full closure for us. But we know that closure will come into our hearts as we continue to share this story with the world. We can only hope that more conversations about Teish and her life will prevent another bullet from taking another life. Though Teish left us 9 months ago, she has given us all the possibility to work towards a better tomorrow.

Thank you.

AIDS Issues Update

Action Alert: Tell Senators Healthcare Reform Must Include
Medicaid Parity for U.S. Territories!
Call Senate finance committee members today, and tell them to
support Puerto Rico and U.S. territories

While the U.S. government covers at least 50 percent of the bill for states’
Medicaid funding, it caps the amount of Medicaid dollars it will give to U.S.
territories. This discrepancy severely limits territories’ funding streams, and
Sens. Baucus and Grassley (seen above chatting),
are two of the folks to contact
Housing Works: News: Action Alert: Tell Senators Healthcare Reform Must Include Med... means that in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana
Islands, and American Samoa, only the poorest citizens qualify for Medicaid
and people, including those living with HIV/AIDS and other diseases are
the ones who suffer.

This situation is a particular blow to Puerto Rico, which is dealing with an
HIV/AIDS crisis. Increasing Medicaid for Puerto Rico would be a major
step forward in fighting the AIDS epidemic there. Insufficient Medicaid
funds force many Puerto Ricans living with AIDS to rely on programs
funded by the Ryan White Care Act. Ryan White has been notoriously
mismanaged on the island, a situation that has resulted in a lack of access to
AIDS medications through the Ryan White-funded AIDS Drugs Assistance
Program (ADAP).

In 2008, the U.S. spent approximately $20 per Medicaid participant per
month in Puerto Rico, compared to $330 per participant per month in the
U.S. This alarming disparity is widely acknowledged: As a candidate,
Obama stated his desire to “to continually raise the cap on federal
contributions to Medicaid in Puerto Rico until it disappears.”

What to do
Call Senate finance members (who are largely the ones crafting healthcare
reform legislation) and tell them the U.S. territories must have full Medicaid

In the House of Representatives H.R. 2680 calls “to amend the Social
Security Act to provide for payment parity for Puerto Rico, the Virgin
Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa under
the Medicaid Program, and for other purposes.”

But in the Senate, where the territories don’t have even non-voting
representation, there is no companion bill. Urge Senate finance committee
members to include full healthcare parity for the U.S. territories in
healthcare reform legislation, and improve the health of people in the
Housing Works: News: Action Alert: Tell Senators Healthcare Reform Must Include

Who to call
Max Baucus (D-MT) 202-224-2651
Chuck Grassley(R-IA) (202) 224-3744
Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) (202) 224-5521
Olympia Snowe (R-ME) (202) 224-5344
Kent Conrad (D-ND) (202) 224-2043
Mike Enzi (R-WY) (202) 224-3424
What to say
“My name is _____ and I’m calling to urge Sen. ______ to make sure
health care reform legislation includes amending the Social Security Act to
provide for payment parity for U.S. territories under the Medicaid Program,
and for other purposes.”

Friday, August 14, 2009

NYC LGBT Advisory Committe NYPD

Dear New Yorker,

This week I spoke with Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly about re-constituting an LGBT advisory committee to the New York City Police Department (NYPD). Commissioner Kelly agreed that this committee is of vital importance to the NYPD, the City and the continued safety of LGBT New Yorkers across the five boroughs. Commissioner Kelly directed the police officer assigned to his office as LGBT liaison to reactivate the committee.

This important step taken by the Commissioner will allow for the public safety concerns of LGBT New Yorkers to be registered fairly and thoroughly at the highest levels of the Department. The NYPD LGBT advisory committee will discuss public safety issues that affect our community throughout the city. Working with the NYPD's LGBT Community Liaison, I believe that this committee will help strengthen the working relationship between the NYPD and the LGBT community and help ensure the safety of all New Yorkers.

I encourage you to raise any concerns you may have about the safety of a particular individual or members of the LGBT community with the LGBT advisory committee or the LGBT Community Liaison.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Gay and Lesbian Episcopal Priests Nominated

The Episcopal Church Diocese in Los Angeles and Minnesota are making history by nominating openly gay and lesbian priests as bishops within their Diocese. The Diocese of Los Angeles, which represents 70,000 Episcopalians in six counties, nominated six priests for the position of assistant bishop. Of these six two candidates, the Rev. John L. Kirkley of San Francisco and the Rev. Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool of Baltimore are openly gay and lesbian respectively. The election will occurs in December when the diocese meets for its annual convention in Riverside, Calif.

Also this past weekend, Episcopal leaders in Minnesota nominated the Rev. Bonnie Perry, currently the rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago and an adjunct professor at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill., for the position of bishop. Perry has been in a committed relationship with Rev. Susan Harlow for 22 years. Perry is one of three candidates currently slated for this position. The final candidate roster will be announced September 25 and the election is scheduled for October 31 in Minneapolis.

“We applaud the Diocese of Minnesota and the Diocese of Los Angeles for nominating openly gay and lesbian priests as part of a diverse, highly qualified slate of candidates,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

This development is not just good news for the Anglican church; it is good news for all people of faith seeking religious communities that understand our sexuality and gender identity is a gift from God and should never be used to bare us from worship or our call to ministry.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Gay-Friendly Online Highschool

(Minnesota) A Maplewood, Minnesota-based GLBTQ High School will be launched online in January 2010 reports the Pioneer Press. Started by David Glick, the online high school would be the first of its kind.

“We may not bring people closer physically - but we will in every other way,” Glick said. “We want to make them feel more confident about who they are.”

Glick started working on the website, which will be called the GLBTQ Online High School, in order to reach students who live in rural areas that do not have access to many resources.

While Glick argues that this online school would protect students from bullying and act as a safe-haven, many fear that they will simply be further isolated from their peers.

“The danger of the online high school is that kids will stay isolated and feel uncared for,” said David Johnson, a social psychology teacher at the University of Minnesota. “It would be much better to have these kids in a regular high school.”

Others, such as Glick and Curt Johnson, disagree and believe students gain a closer relationship with their teachers online due to increased interaction.

“The individual transactions of e-mailing and telephoning regularly creates a relationship between students and teachers,” said Johnson, a managing partner at Education Evolving, a joint venture of the Center for Policy Studies and Hamline University that promotes technological progress in schools.

Through the use of videos, chats, graphics and other multimedia, and occasional phone calls, teachers on the online high school will teach a more “GLBT-friendly” curriculum that highlights importance figures in gay rights history.

Sylvia's Place stories on Driftwood

“Sylvia’s Place” WeekMonday August 10, 2009

Sylvia’s Place, part of Metropolitan Community Church of New York (MCCNY), is an emergency night shelter and daytime community space for homeless LGBTQ youth, 16-24, in New York City. I stopped by there three times in the past four weeks and met with several of the youth there, talked to them about my site and asked if any of them would be interested in sharing their stories.

Every Tuesday, Greer Austin volunteers his time to manage a writing workshop at Sylvia’s Place and I thought that would be a great time for some of the interested youth to write their stories. It exceeded my expectations.

In only about half an hour, four of the youth and Greer himself hand wrote compelling, emotional, inspiring, well-written true tales from their lives. Just like all the stories on IFD, I didn’t give the authors a topic, they just wrote about any story involving them being LGBTQ. Every story this week will be by someone from Sylvia’s Place. It was a real pleasure meeting all the youth and hearing their stories read aloud for the first time, and I hope they’re as meaningful to you all as they are to me.

Daniel Radcliffe gives to support LGBTQ Youth considering suicide

Harry Potter and Equus star Daniel Radcliffe has made a major donation to The Trevor Project, the non-profit organization that operates the only nationwide suicide-prevention helpline for LGBTQ youth, the group announced today:

"The 20-year-old actor joined The Trevor Project’s Circle of Hope, a community of major donors which plays an essential role in providing the financial leadership that makes the organization’s lifesaving work possible."

Said Radcliffe: “I am very pleased to begin my support of The Trevor Project, which saves lives every day through its critical work. It's extremely distressing to consider that in 2009 suicide is a top three killer of young people, and it's truly devastating to learn that LGBTQ youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. I deeply hope my support can raise the organization's visibility so even more despondent youth become aware of The Trevor Helpline's highly trained counselors and Trevor’s many other resources. It's vitally important that young people understand they are not alone and, perhaps even more important, that their young lives have real value.”

Said Charles Robbins, executive director and CEO of The Trevor Project: "We’re incredibly grateful to Daniel for his truly inspiring and historic generosity and support. He is setting a meaningful example for millions of young people around the world by embracing diversity and demonstrating that he cares deeply about the well-being of LGBTQ youth."

Thursday, August 6, 2009

health legislation proposed for gay youth

NYC lawmaker wants health division for gay youths
In 29 states, you can be fired solely because you're gay – and if you're transgender, that's 38 states. It's outrageous, and it's unacceptable.
The good news is that we are closer than ever to moving the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and providing workplace protections for our entire community.
We have a President who supports a fully-inclusive ENDA. We have legislation in the House that already has more than 150 co-sponsors. And today, for the first time ever, we have a fully-inclusive bill in the Senate!
We need your help to continue building support for ENDA on Capitol Hill. Send a message to your senators today – tell them to cosponsor ENDA!We all know how tough the economy is these days. People across the country are struggling to find and keep jobs, pay their kids' medical bills and put food on the table. For LGBT Americans, however, there's also the very real threat that they could lose their jobs simply because of who they are.
Today, Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) have introduced a fully-inclusive version of ENDA in the Senate that could put an end to this bitter injustice.

Tel Aviv Youth Group Vigil

Metropolitan Community Church of New York joins the Community-wide Prayer Vigil for Victims of the Attack on the Tel Aviv LGBT Youth Group.
Last Saturday night, an unknown assailant opened fire on a meeting of a gay and lesbian youth group in Tel Aviv, killing three people and injuring fifteen.

This Wednesday, August 5, New York responds.

Please join us for a community-wide memorial service as we stand in solidarity with the victims of this vicious attack and demand equality for LGBT people everywhere.
Speakers include Congressman Jerrold Nadler, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Nehirim director Jay Michaelson, and others.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Success for Matthew Shepard Act

I have great news to share: the Senate has passed the Matthew Shepard Act!
The bill will soon be on its way to President Obama's desk, where he'll get a chance to make good on his promise to sign it.
This vote came on the heels of tremendous pressure from radical right-wing groups that used every trick in the book.
They called the bill the "Pedophile Protection Act," among other outrageous claims. They dismissed the barbaric hate crime that took Matthew Shepard's life as a "hoax." They flooded the Senate with hundreds of thousands of letters and calls.
But your calls, emails, and financial support for our work helped make sure the truth prevailed in the end. Without you, this victory for equal rights would not have been possible.
Will you do one last important thing? Both of your senators voted "Yes" on the bill and both need to know we appreciate their courage under fire.
Please call and thank your senators today: Sen. Charles 'Chuck' E. Schumer (202) 224-6542 and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (202) 224-4451 .
Once you've called, please report your call. Don't skip this step! It helps us track all the calls.
A simple 'thank you' after the vote is just as important as all the calls and emails before the vote. It lets lawmakers know that their constituents are engaged, and makes them more likely to pay attention when we need their help again. This is a tremendous step forward for full equality for LGBT Americans, but we most certainly will need their help again.
Please take a minute from your busy day to make these two quick calls.

Bullying LGBTQ students

Please read the article below to learn about the work that the Gay,
Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) is doing to promote the
Safe Schools Improvement Act, created "to promote school safety and
improve student achievement for all students, through legislation that
will comprehensively address the issues of bullying and harassment".

"Sirdeaner Walker Testifies Before House Subcommittees in Support of
Safe Schools Improvement Act"

While bullying is often seen as separate from sexual harassment,
gender-based and orientation-based harassment come in many different
forms. The Coalition for Gender Equity in Schools aligns itself with
this exciting and necessary work.

Please show your support of the Safe Schools Improvement Act by signing
the online petition at the beginning of the article.

More information about the SSI Act can be found here:

Monday, July 27, 2009

In favor of the Syringe Exchange!

The House voted to defeat the Souder Amendment (and in favor of syringe exchange) 218 - 211.

Thank you all for the astonishing work that you have been doing to get people motivated to call!!!

Great news!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Contact: Sean Barry, 646.373.3344 /


Bill Would Create An Affordable Housing Protection For 11,000 Low-Income People With AIDS At Risk Of Eviction;
Advocates Look to Assembly and Governor Paterson to Approve It

New York – A coalition of low-income people living with HIV/AIDS and housing providers praised the New York Senate for passing a bill designing to prevent homelessness among low-income people living with AIDS. The bill, introduced by Senator Tom Duane and sponsored by thirteen of his colleagues, would ensure low-income people with AIDS receiving public housing assistance pay no more than 30% of their disability income towards their rent. It passed with bipartisan support and despite the absence of four Democratic Senators.

“New York City’s rental assistance program for low-income people with AIDS leaves me with $11 per day, with the rest of my check going to rent each month. That means I have to choose between basic necessities like going to the doctor, buying groceries, keeping my phone turned on or paying rent. This bill would not only give me a fighting chance at a decent quality of life, it would help me survive,” commented Gustavo Pedroza, a campaign leader with the NYC AIDS Housing Network (NYCAHN).

An independent analysis by Shubert-Botein Policy Associates concluded that the bill could save New York money by preventing costly arrears, evictions and emergency housing placements. A growing body of research also documents that stable housing is essential to effective HIV/AIDS healthcare and prevention, including increasing adherence to medication, reducing hospitalizations and ER visits, and reducing HIV risk behaviors.

The bill remained bottled up in the Assembly Ways & Means committee before the end of their regular session, although the Assembly is expected to come back in the fall to pass reconciliation bills and budget modifications. Assembly Member Deborah Glick introduced companion legislation with forty cosponsors, including Ways & Means Committee Chair Denny Farrell. Advocates called on Speaker Silver and Governor Paterson to prioritize enacting the bill into law during any future legislation sessions in 2009.

“The Assembly went home without passing urgently needed legislation that would help me keep my home. We need Speaker Silver to take responsibility and prioritize this vital legislation when they come back to Albany,” said NYCAHN leader James Dean.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

No Ban on Funding: ACT NOW

Walk through key targets, brainstorming:
- what do we need to do in the next 2 days.

- Immediate Targets (likely yes’s and undecideds – need strong reinforcement)
== PHR has people all over
Berry (D-AR01) - Jonesboro (AMSA, C2EA)
Schiff (D-CA29) - Pasadena (APLA)
Lewis (R-CA41) - San Bernadino, Eastern LA (APLA)
Salazar (D-CO03) - Grand Junction, Pueblo (none)
Boyd (D-FL02) (Needs strong constituent support) - Tallahasse (C2EA)
Bishop (D-GA02) - Columbus, Albany, Thomasville (none)
Kirk (R-IL10) - GAA - north of Chicago, Waukegan, Northbrook (IAPAC)
Visclosky (D-IN01) - NW Indiana/Merrillville (C2EA)
Frelinghuysen (R-NJ11) - W of NYC, Dover, Madison (C2EA)
Kaptur (D-OH09) - Toledo, Sandusky (AMSA, MCC)
LaTourette (R-OH14) (listed as “pro,” but should receive strong attention) - eastern Cleveland suburbs (PHR + lots of others)
Murtha (D-PA12) - Johnstown (Px Pt Pgh)
Davis (D-TN04) (Needs strong constituent support) - Columbia, Jamestown, McMinnville, Rockwood (AMSA, PHR)
Mollohan (D-WV01) - Clarksburg, Wheeling (C2EA)

- if you're not from the area, you can say you have "family" there

Ramp up for next week/full House
- what can people elsewhere do?
- call your member of congress and tell them to support syringe exchange funding and vote against any amendments that would limit syringe exchange funding
- what would be useful to make? sample LTE (Kaytee + Farheen). there are also action alerts out there that people can use.
Update on House timeline:
- this friday, there's a full committee hearing on the labor-health and human services bill, where the syringe exchange funding ban is gone! we need to make sure to keep the ban out of the bill, and not let any new amendments that would restrict where funding can go.
- concerns around limiting syringe exchanges to >1,000 feet away from schools and tons of other types of buildings
- need to be sure that people who are supportive don't vote for amendments that would restrict funding or restore the ban
- constituents are really important
- next step after committee vote is a vote on the full floor of the House, Wednesday July 22nd
- Senate will mark up July 28th @ subcommittee, full committee on July 30th, floor before Aug 6th likely
- other possible amendments including
- we don't know what amendments will come, though, but we can expect bad ones. more information on this is attached.

Talking Points

This Friday, members of the Appropriations Committee will likely vote on syringe exchange programs. Opponents of these life-saving programs know that there is universal agreement that they help to prevent the spread of HIV without increasing drug use. They are likely to propose amendments that would attempt to undermine these programs – or eliminate them through a back-door. Below we highlight four amendments that have been offered in the past. We urge members to vote against any amendments. States and localities should decide whether and how to implement these programs, based on local circumstances.

Proximity to schools and other facilities “1000 foot rule”
• Local communities should decide whether to have a syringe exchange and where to place such a program.
• These kinds of restrictions have disparate impact on urban and rural areas. Some cities would no longer be able to run any programs.
• Programs should be placed where they are most needed. Arbitrary restrictions mean that some of the communities hardest hit wouldn’t have access.
• Today, states and localities decide where to place programs. The federal government should not override local authorities.

Safe Injection Facilities
• This bill does not legalize safe injection facilities. This is a red herring, designed to detract from the extensive medical evidence that syringe exchange helps to reduce HIV infection without increasing drug use.
• These facilities exist on a pilot basis in other countries like Canada, where drug users consume pre-obtained drugs with medical supervision. Not a single safe injection facility operates in the US and no city has plans to implement one.

Pledge to oppose the legalization of drugs
• These kinds of “pledge” requirements violate the first amendment because they restrict their right to engage in free speech. The courts have consistently found these free speech restrictions to be unconstitutional.
• This bill does not legalize drugs. The bill does prevent the spread of HIV and hepatitis and to link drug users to health and social services.

Heroin maintenance
• This bill does not legalize heroin or so-called “heroin maintenance” programs. The US currently offers two medications to treat addiction to opiates – methadone and buprenorphine. Syringe exchange programs are the best source of referrals to drug treatment.
• Some countries, including Switzerland, have pilot programs that provide medical grade heroin at government supervised medical clinics to drug users who have proven unresponsive to all other formers of drug treatment.
• Not a single US city has a heroin maintenance program and no city is planning on implementing one. An amendment relating to this issue would be nothing more than a ruse to restore the federal syringe exchange ban.

If you wanna help in any of the areas call Lucky Michaels at 212-629-7440 ext 226 to find out more.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Senate is poised to vote on the Matthew Shepard Act THIS WEEK.

The Senate is poised to vote on the Matthew Shepard Act THIS WEEK. But our allies are reporting an avalanche of 300,000 letters and calls from right-wing groups trying to stop it.
Anti-LGBT leaders like Focus on the Family's James Dobson are now calling the bill "utter evil." They're even referring to it as the "Pedophile Protection Act."
With a vote on hate crimes coming any day, we desperately need senators to hear from fair-minded people like you.
It takes about 45 seconds to call each one of your senators – and each one of them needs to hear from you today. It's just as important for supportive senators to hear from us – they've promised to pass this bill, and they need to know we're counting on them to keep fighting.
So set yourself a reminder on your computer. Make the call on your way to lunch. Or stop reading this and do it right now. Whatever you do, make sure to CALL YOUR SENATORS TODAY.
If you've never called Congress, let me assure you, it's incredibly easy.
Before 5 p.m. ET, call Sen. Charles 'Chuck' E. Schumer (202) 224-6542 and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (202) 224-4451 .
Most likely, one of your senator's interns will answer and ask where you're calling from and why. You're calling to urge the Senator to vote for the Matthew Shepard Act (S. 909). Most calls end right there. But if you like, you can add:
Hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are on the rise.
One out of every six hate crimes is because of the victim's sexual orientation.
Hate crimes have more than one victim. They are intended to create an atmosphere of fear and terrorize entire communities.
IMPORTANT: After you hang up, click here to let us know that you made the call. Don't skip this step! It helps us track our progress.
We have the truth on our side – and we need you to speak the truth today to counter our opponents' outrageous lies. Please make your phone calls right now.
Then, please pass this email on to your friends and family.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

With a new HIV infection every 9 ½ minutes in the US, why are we bailing out the bankers and leaving people with HIV without?


AIDS Activists Risk Arrest in Capitol Building
Demanding Promised Funding & Policy Changes
With a new HIV infection every 9 ½ minutes in the US, why are we bailing out the bankers and leaving people with HIV without?

Washington, DC— Dozens of AIDS activists from across the Northeast U.S. risked arrest today, staging a loud demonstration inside the Capitol Rotunda on the eve of key Congressional votes on appropriations for life-saving programs and one day before President Obama’s first trip to Africa since his election.

The activists decried the Obama administration’s failure to make good on a range of AIDS campaign promises including his pledge: to lift the federal ban on funding syringe exchange, to fully fund lifesaving global AIDS programs, and to fully fund AIDS housing programs in this year’s budget. The activists demanded Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Congressional leadership fix President Obama’s flawed budget proposal.

“HIV is not in recession,” said Omolola Adele-Oso of DC Fights Back. “So why are we bailing out the bankers with $9 trillion, but breaking promises to fund life-saving AIDS programs in the US and around the world at a fraction of that cost?”

Activists noted that despite campaign pledges to increase bilateral global AIDS (PEPFAR) funding by $1 billion a year and fully fund the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the Administration’s budget proposal essentially flat-lines global AIDS funding. Unless President Obama and Congress keep their promise to fund their fair share of the Global Fund’s needed, for example, the Global Fund will have to cut billions of dollars worth of life saving grants.

The activists also denounced the administration’s failure to lift the ban on syringe exchange funding. “Thousands of people have died in the past decade because clean syringes aren’t available,” said Jose De Marco, an HIV+ member of ACT UP Philadelphia and Proyecto Sol Filadelphia. “President Obama, who many of us worked to elect, promised to follow the science and lift the federal funding ban on needle exchange, but his budget explicitly included the ban. Now it’s up to Congress to show real courage where the President has not.”

“We are here because we know that our friends, families, and communities are still dying,” said Larry Bryant of Housing Works. “From DC to California to Zambia people living with AIDS need Congress to act this week and need the administration to make good on its promises.”

Gustavo Pedroza, of the New York City AIDS Housing Network commented: "Housing is one of our most basic needs and a critical part of HIV treatment, care and prevention - without it, other strategies to fight HIV simply don't work. Given the rising cost of housing, President Obama's proposal to flat-fund federal AIDS housing programs will mean low-income people with HIV will lose their housing, not to mention longer waiting lists for a life-saving home."

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


**clean needles work**housing saves lives**fight global aids**

Every 9 1/2 minutes, someone in the US is infected with HIV.
45 more are infected around the world.
This is unacceptable, and we can prevent it.

Last month, President Obama presented his budget to Congress. While there were many areas that showed a real, positive change from the previous administration, there are a handful of areas where the budget did not go far enough. We need to tell Congress to fix it.

The US economy may be in recession, but HIV is not.

CHAMP and our allies are working to improve the federal budget on three levels:
• We want an end to the ban on syringe exchange funding (the ban is in the budget!)
• We want full funding for AIDS housing programs
• We want the US to pay its fair share to fight global AIDS

Congress needs to hear from us NOW. Without a clear outcry from the people they are accountable to - all of us - representatives challenged by a tough political enviornment will not necessarily do the right thing.

Call the leaders of the House and Senate today and tell them HIV is not in recession.

Please call Senate Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi.
As the leaders of both chambers of Congress, they can have a significant impact on the outcome of the budget, and are accountable to the entire nation.

Speaker Pelosi: 202-225-0100

Majority Leader Reid: 202-224-3542

When you call, say:

"My name is _____________ and I'm calling to request that Speaker Pelosi [Majority Leader Reid] work with the Appropriations Committee to improve President Obama's budget and secure sufficient funding for AIDS programs in the US and around the world. One person is infected with HIV every 9 and a half minutes in the US, and 45 more are infected around the world. It's time to act, and we need Speaker Pelosi's [Majority Leader Reid's] support for an end to the federal ban on funding syringe exchange, $2.7 billion for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria, at least a $1 billion increase in funding for PEPFAR, and $360 million for AIDS housing programs. HIV is not in recession, and these programs need Speaker Pelosi's [Majority Leader Reid's] support."

President Obama committed to fully funding evidence-based interventions, like AIDS housing and needle exchange. And he committed to increasing funding for the US Global AIDS Plan, known as PEPFAR, by at least $1 billion per year, plus support for multilateral programs like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Christian Century, July 14, 2009

Religious orgs report 5.5% increase in donations in 08 -v- nationwide decline of 2% in charitable giving overall
Religious orgs received 35% of the total in charitable donations {a little over $100bill of the $307 bill given}
2/3 of public charities reported decreases
54% of human-services charities report increase in need
60% of human-services charities forced to cut expenses

"Organizations serving youth were hit the hardest, with 74% reporting funding shortages."
***majority of contributions came from individuals -v- corporations.
1/2 of all gifts by individuals went to religious orgs.


CHAMP's 'The Politics of HIV Prevention' monthly forum series presents...
Love and Justice in a Time of HIV and AIDS:
The Current State of Affirming Faith Allies
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
6:30 - 8:30 PM

LGBT Community Center
208 West 13th Street (btwn 7th/8th aves.), NYC

Free ~ Open to the public ~ Light Supper & Refreshments provided

For our July forum in "The Politics of HIV Prevention" series, as a part of the series of events produced by the NYC Faith in Action Coalition for AIDS Prevention, Care, and Education (, CHAMP will host a community conversation addressing the current state of faith-based efforts for HIV prevention in New York City.

This forum explores ongoing HIV prevention justice efforts and new directions for interfaith and intra-faith community responses to HIV/AIDS, particularly addressing structural issues driving the domestic epidemic such as homophobia and mass imprisonment. Come join in the conversation with leaders from local faith communities who are working to build affirming outreach and programs to address the root causes of vulnerability amongst their members and in their communities.

Rashidah Abdul-Khabeer - Islamic Social Services Association
Rev. Pat Bumgardner - Metropolitan Community Church of New York
Rev. Stacey Latimer - Unity Fellowship Church Movement
Daniel Leyva - The Latino Religious Leadership Project
Oliver Martin - United Church of Christ HIV/AIDS Network
Waheedah Shabazz-El - U.S. Positive Women's Network
Krishna Stone, Ordained Non-Denominational Minister - GMHC
Aleza Summit - Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, Member

Laura McTighe - Project UNSHACKLE, CHAMP

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The AJWS-AVODAH NY City Team Presents…

Reel Talk: A Film Screening and Conversation on Storytelling and Social Justice

On Sunday, July 12th, join film enthusiasts, story tellers, and fellow Jewish activists, to experience “Youth Producing Change” - a series of short films created by youth from across the globe that premiered at the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival.

Together we will experience the vision of young activists who have channeled art and technology to share their perspectives, engage and empower their communities, and expose human rights issues close to their hearts.

With classic movie treats a plenty, you’re invited to relax, enjoy, and connect with other young Jews from across the city.

Following the screening, local Jewish artists and activists will enhance our movie-going experience by sharing their vantage points as they facilitate dialogue about art and activism. Together we will explore our values and the power of storytelling to promote social change.

When: Sunday, July 12, 2pm-5pm
Where: Congregation Beth Elohim, 274 Garfield Place, Park Slope, Brooklyn
To register: Click here. (or paste the following link:
For more information: Contact

Classic (and kosher!) movie snacks will be served.
Program begins promptly at 2:15pm. Screening begins at 2:30pm, followed by facilitated group conversations.

This program is the first in a two-part series related to art and activism from a Jewish lens. Stay tuned for more information about “Poetry as Protest”, a July 22nd event hosted by Uri L’Tzedek and Mima’amakim and co-sponsored by the AJWS-AVODAH Partnership.

Reel Talk is brought to you by the AJWS-AVODAH NY City Team and is co-sponsored by Brooklyn Jews, Uri L’Tzedek, and Mima’amakim. It is made possible thanks to collaboration with the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival and Founding Presenter, Adobe Youth Voices.


Dear Lucky,
A policy that punishes people for being HIV-positive is close to being repealed.
But we need to make sure it actually happens.
Help eliminate this discriminatory policy once and for all!
It's one of the ugliest remnants of discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS – hurtful, obsolete, and wrong.
A decades-old policy BANS nearly every foreign person with HIV from setting foot on U.S. soil.
But that could change very soon. President Obama's Department of Health and Human Services has finally proposed ending the ban. Starting today, the public has 45 days to weigh in. And the right wing certainly will.
We need to show broad support for ending this discriminatory policy.
We shouldn't punish people for being HIV-positive! Help the Obama administration follow through and end the ban.
This draconian ban tears apart families, denies American businesses access to talented workers, and bars tourists from supporting our economy. It bans students and researchers. It's the reason why the U.S. hasn't hosted a global AIDS conference since 1990.
And it is just downright pointless. Leading doctors have opposed this policy for decades because it has no benefit for public health.
In fact, the U.S. is one of only a handful of countries including Russia, Saudi Arabia and Sudan that maintains such harsh policies. It's time we got with the program.
Congress finally repealed the law a year ago, but only HHS can actually remove HIV/AIDS from the list of diseases with travel restrictions. The Obama administration has proposed the necessary change, but they need our help to get it across the finish line.

Take action now! Help end the ban, once and for all.

Thank you for taking action. This hurtful policy has harmed HIV-positive people for far too long, and with your help, we'll end it.

Joe Solmonese

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Support New LGBT bill in Arkansas

Your help is needed in order to help get the word out about a bill in Congress that would change the lives of many people who’s families are being torn apart.

The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA -H.R. 1024/S. 424) was introduced as a Valentine’s Day gift this year to same-sex, binational couples by Rep. Jerrold Nadler and Sen. Patrick Leahy.

The UAFA would fulfill the pledge of family unification under current U.S. immigration policy by allowing gay and lesbian Americans to sponsor their life partners for immigration to the United States.

As you may be aware, the U.S. government discriminates against gay and lesbian binational couples by not allowing us to sponsor our foreign-born life partners for immigration. Because of this, we face the terrible choice of separating from the person we love
or leaving our country. As Americans, we should not have to choose between family and country.

The Washington Post and The San Francisco Chronicle have both recently endorsed passage of the UAFA, and the American Bar Association has also just recently adopted a resolution endorsing the UAFA.

This is an issue that The White House also supports:

Asked about Obama’s stance on UAFA [the Uniting American Families Act] and the likelihood of its inclusion in comprehensive immigration legislation, White House spokesman Shin Inouye said in a statement that: “The president thinks Americans with partners from other countries should not be faced with a painful choice between staying with their partner or staying in their country. We will work closely with Congress to craft comprehensive immigration reform legislation.”

This is not a problem that is fixed by civil unions or even same-sex marriage arriving in Iowa, Vermont, Maine or any other state. Tens of thousands of bi-national same-sex couples continue to be discriminated against despite changing marriage laws. The Uniting American Families Act would allow us to sponsor our foreign partners for immigration, a right that straight married couples in the US enjoy, along with same-sex couples in 19 other nations around the world. Until this legislation passes, the US will continue, in the gleeful words of the Family Research Council, to “export homosexuals from the United States” as we are forced to choose between our loved ones and our country.

PLEASE contact your members of Congress about this bill, and then reach out to the LGBT Community by mentioning this bill on your website, and send this e-mail to your members, board, family and friends - anyone who is supportive of LGBT rights in Arkansas - to help spread the word about this very important issue. While I am not from Arkansas, in order for this bill to move forward, it needs the support of as many members of Congress as possible, including:

Senator Blanche Lincoln 800-352-9364
Senator Mark Pryor (501) 324-6336
Rep. Marion Berry (870) 972-4600
Rep. Vict Snyder 501-324-5941
Rep. John Boozman(479) 725-0400
Rep. Mike Ross (870) 881-0681

Reaching out to these members of Congress by calling and writing to them to ask for their support can help to ensure this bill will pass! Even if they are Republicans, they need to hear from their constituents about this.

I am one such person who would benefit greatly from the passage of the UAFA. I am an American citizen and my partner is from Europe and we both live and work here in the US, where we bought an apartment together a few years ago. With the recent economic downturn, my partner’s employer has notified him that his work visa will not be renewed when it expires in a few months. If he cannot locate another employer willing to sponsor his work visa (he has been trying for months, but not only is it difficult to find a job at the moment, but especially so when you have to convince the employer to hire an immigration attorney), we will be forced to sell our place, leave our family and friends, and move to Europe. This is something neither of us want to do as we have built a life here together.

If this bill does not move forward on its own, it must be included in Comprehensive Immigration Reform - to include the right of gay and lesbian Americans to sponsor our partners and spouses for immigration.

Sadly, many members of the progressive and pro-LGBT Community are not aware of this issue. Please help me contact Congress to spread the word!!

Update on this issue

We picked up 13 more co-sponsors in the House of Representatives,and 2 more in the Senate. There was a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about this bill and it got a lot of press (NY Times, CNN and others).


Trevor Project

Trevor Project Needs Help

The Trevor Project, is the only national 24/7 suicide and prevention help line for LGBTQ youth and it needs our help as LGBTQ leaders. Simply stated: it needs contributions. If I may be so bold to know despite all of the current ongoing DOMA battles, despite all of the daily excitement and frustration and debate and celebration, we also must see the collateral damage, the wounds that these great strides can inflict. And in doing so, in acknowledging the young people in this country who feel the hateful burden of these triumphant strides, we prepare the next generation of LGBTQ citizens to achieve and sustain what we all so desperately want, and what we all so genuinely deserve: equality and justice for all.

When a kid from Iowa calls Trevor's helpline because his father just cursed the state government for allowing same-sex marriage, and when the helpline counselor talks and listens and gets him to put down the handful of pills he wanted to take that night. When that one life is saved, we may have just re-written the life story of the first gay president, or of a doctor who will work to ease the difficulties of gender transition, or of a diplomat who will one day represent the United States proudly as the leader in LGBT human rights worldwide, or of a teacher who will stop the bullying in his classroom and pass on the hope Trevor gave him.

When we answer the phone for a girl who is the only openly bi-sexual student in her high school, and the only member of the gay-straight alliance she founded despite her principal’s resistance, and her parent’s protest, and we acknowledge and affirm her bravery, we know we have inspired not just one agent of change, but a generation.

In perceived isolation, many young people grow up today with no reason to think that the horrible things they hear about LGBTQ people aren’t true. The Trevor Project anticipates this. They are poised, and they are growing, and their influence is expanding.

To everyone who calls, we offer comfort at a distance. It’s knowing that in their darkest moment, they have an outlet. They have someone who gets it. But no matter what advice they offer or resources they provide, the most important line they utter to each and every caller is: “you can call us back any time 24/7. We’re always here”

PLEASE ask someone, a client, a friend, a parent, a spouse, yourself to support Trevor today at their website

Friday, June 19, 2009

Make 2 Calls Today!!

Health care reform is moving fast through Congress, and provisions are at risk that would protect people living with HIV and AIDS and those most vulnerable to transmission. Opponents are citing high costs, but 50% of people living with HIV and AIDS in the US do not have regular health care.

Health care is a human right, and
a critical investment for healthy families, a healthy work force and a healthy economy.

Your help is vital NOW to ensure Senate committees keep key components of the legislation that protect people living with HIV and AIDS.

How you can help:

Call your two United States Senators in their Washington, DC office. Ask to speak to the staff person who handles HIV and health care issues. You might get their voicemail, or you might speak to them in person. Either way, tell them:

"My name is ____________ and I live in (city/state). I am very concerned that health care reform will not meet the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS. Any final health care legislation must eliminate the disability requirement for Medicaid and ensure that all low-income people, including childless adults, have early access to care. It must also include language from the Early Treatment for HIV Act which expands access to Medicaid for people living with HIV. Finally, it must have a public plan option to best ensure affordable access to comprehensive care for people with HIV. All three provisions are crucial to ensure that people with HIV/AIDS have early access to care and treatment that keep them healthy and productive. I urge Senator ______________ to do everything in his/her power to fight for these important provisions."

You can reach your Senators by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 1-202-224-3121. If you don't know who your Senators are, go to and enter your zip code in the upper right corner.

Phone calls are particularly effective right now because Congress is moving quickly. However, if you prefer to send an email, go to your Senator's website (linked from You will find instructions on sending emails to that office. Cut and paste the phone message, make sure your name and the Senator's name is included, and add a short personal note explaining why this issue is important to you.

If you need help figuring out who your Senators are or how to call/email them, write to and someone will help!

The move to reform health care in the United States must ensure that everyone living with HIV benefits from early and reliable access to lifesaving care and treatment. Coordinated action by our entire community is needed to make sure Congress knows how important these three core provisions are for all of us:

Expanding Medicaid for all low-income people, including childless adults, by eliminating current requirements that tie Medicaid to disability status. This would give approximately 42% of all people living with HIV who are currently uninsured immediate access to health care through Medicaid.

Including Early Treatment for HIV Act (ETHA) language which gives states the option to expand Medicaid access to low-income people living with HIV whose incomes are above established Medicaid income eligibility rules. This will give states the option to expand coverage for people living with HIV/AIDS, reaching more than 75% who are currently uninsured.

Including a strong public plan option to help provide affordable access to comprehensive care for people HIV - nearly 30 percent of whom have no insurance. This would offer a national standard for coverage and greater dependability, consistency and security for people with HIV than private plans, which can charge higher prices and/or close, merge or change benefits at will.

All three of these priorities are crucial to ensure the best possible expansion of care and treatment for people with HIV/AIDS and must be part of any final health care reform package.

Decisions are being made quickly and Congress needs to hear directly from people who are most impacted by this legislation. Please take a minute to make two important phone calls today!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

BIAS attacks highest since 1999

NEW YORK (AP) - The number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people killed in bias-motivated incidents increased by 28 percent in 2008 compared to a year ago, according to a national coalition of advocacy groups.
Last year's 29 killings was the highest recorded by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs since 1999, when it documented the same number of slayings, according to a report released Tuesday by the coalition.
"What we're also seeing, more disturbingly, is the increase in the severity of violence," said Sharon Stapel, executive director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, which coordinates coalition.
Stapel theorized that at least some of last year's violence was backlash against issues that arose during the during the presidential campaign. She cited debates about same-sex marriage, the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, and federal legislation that would ban employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as possible flash points.
"The more visibility there is the more likely we're going to see backlash, and that's exactly what we see here," Stapel said.
Overall, the number of victims who reported anti-LGBT violence in 2008 increased by two percent compared to 2007, said the New York-based coalition of programs in 25 states.
Coalition officials say their figures are more accurate than those from law enforcement agencies. As an example, they say, the FBI doesn't record bias crimes against transgender people because gender identity isn't covered by federal hate-crime law.
Also, victims sometimes are reluctant to report bias incidents to police because they don't want to reveal their sexual orientation or gender identity and/or they fear bias from police, officials said.
Reports of physical abuse by police increased to 25 incidents last year from 10 in 2007, the report said.
For the new report, programs in Milwaukee, Minnesota, Chicago, Los Angeles, Colorado, Columbus, Ohio, Houston, Pennsylvania, New York City, Kansas City, Missouri, Michigan and San Francisco submitted data.
Programs in Vermont and the Boston area participated in the 2007 report but not the current one. The program in Rochester, N.Y., participated in 2008 for the first time.
The largest increase - 64 percent - was in Milwaukee, where the number of reported incidents rose to 18 in 2008 from 11 in 2007, the report said.
Officials weren't sure whether reported increases were attributable to more people reporting incidents or an actual rise.
Meighan Bentz, a victim outreach advocate at the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, which includes an anti-violence project, said, "I think it's a combination."
"Certainly there are more people reporting," Bentz said, adding that the project started in 2005. "As time goes on there are more people aware of our program as a resource."
Bentz added, "I do believe there are ongoing issues of violence and its affect upon LGBT individuals. It's a vulnerable population."
Many of 2008's incidents made headlines.
In December, a man was beaten to death in New York City while he walked arm in arm with his brother as their attackers yelled anti-gay and anti-Latino epithets. Two men have been charged with murder as a hate crime.
In February 2008, 15-year-old Lawrence King was shot to death at school in Oxnard, Calif., near Malibu after enduring harassment after he told classmates he was gay; a classmate is charged as an adult in the killing, which prosecutors classified as a hate crime.
Last June, a surveillance tape was publicized showing Memphis, Tenn., police officers beating Duanna Johnson, a transgender woman, and shouting slurs in a jail booking area; a public outcry erupted.
In November, Johnson was found fatally shot on a Memphis street.
Consensus Conference Addresses Suicide Risk among LGBT Populations

In November 2007, AFSP organized a conference cosponsored by the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center that brought together leading experts in areas related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender suicide.
for the
conference agenda

The two-day “Consensus Conference on LGBT Suicide: Research, Treatment and Prevention," took place in Chicago on Nov. 8-9, and looked to assess the current state of knowledge and develop a consensus statement with recommendations to guide future research, treatment, education and suicide prevention interventions related to LGBT populations.

Over the last two decades, research findings have pointed to disproportionately high rates of suicidal behavior among LGBT adolescents and young adults. Suicide attempts in this population have been linked to a variety of factors including gender nonconformity, lack of support, family problems, violence/ victimization, early sexual debut and mental health problems, notably depression and substance abuse or dependency. How these factors converge to produce suicidal behavior among different groups of sexual minority youth, however, remains only partially understood.

While some research suggests that LGBT adults are not at substantially higher risk for suicidal ideation or attempts compared to comparably aged heterosexuals, other recent population-based studies have found higher lifetime rates of suicide attempts among homosexual men, in particular, that could not be explained solely on the basis of higher psychiatric morbidity. Few studies have looked at LGBT older adults, although many in this group share characteristics that make the elderly overall particularly vulnerable to suicide risk, such as chronic illness. LGBT elders may have additional risk factors related to sexual orientation or gender identity.

Because official suicide statistics do not include information on sexual orientation or gender identity, firm data are lacking on whether rates of completed suicide are higher among LGBT youth, adults or older adults, compared to the general population. Lacking clear data on the prevalence of suicide among these individuals, and clear understanding of the underlying causes, few suicide prevention programs have focused specifically on this population.

This LGBT conference was designed to address these gaps. AFSP anticipates that this conference will be the first step of a long-term initiative to address LGBT suicide, similar to initiatives the Foundation has undertaken to address suicide in other understudied populations. Post-conference goals include stimulating needed research on LGBT depression and suicide, increasing public and professional understanding in these areas and guiding the development of empirically-grounded suicide prevention interventions for LGBT individuals across the lifespan.