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.