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.