Friday, February 26, 2010

Just Treatment of Transgender People in NYPD Custody

The Petition

Dear Police Commissioner Ray Kelly c/o the New York Police Department,

We, members of New York City’s transgender communities, community organizations, advocates, and allies, ask that you implement changes in the New York City Police Department (NYPD) policies that would improve our safety in interactions with the police. Specifically, we insist that you adopt the “Proposed Policy for the Treatment of Transgender People in NYPD Custody” and the associated changes to the NYPD patrol guide, submitted to the NYPD in April 2009.

Transgender New Yorkers report experiencing verbal harassment, disproportionate arrests for ‘quality of life’ offenses, invasive and unlawful searches for the purpose of determining gender, and housing placement in NYPD custody that could expose them to harassment and violence while in NYPD custody.

To respond to these needs, a group of New York City based community organizations and individuals – including those who have personally come into contact with the NYPD – came together to propose comprehensive changes to the NYPD patrol guide. We drew on our own experiences as well as on the policies of cities that have led the way in addressing interactions between police and transgender communities, including Washington, D.C.; San Francisco, California; Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and Toronto, Ontario.

The result of this work is reflected in the Proposed Policy for the Treatment of Transgender People in NYPD Custody that includes:

*NYPD officers will refer to an arrestee with the name and pronouns the arrestee has used to identify him or herself and not require proof of an individual’s gender or challenge an individual’s gender identity.

*NYPD officers will refrain from using slurs or making lewd, derogatory, or harassing remarks based on gender (including gender identity and expression), sex, or sexual orientation.

*NYPD officers will not ask personal questions about gender (including gender identity and expression), sexual orientation or practices, or medical history unless necessary for an investigation.

*NYPD officers will not construe gender identity or expression as evidence that an individual has engaged in prostitution or any other crime.

*Under no circumstances shall NYPD officers frisk or search any person for the purpose of determining that person’s gender or to view or touch the person’s genitals.

*Placement decisions about a transgender arrestee will be based on a determination of where the individual will be safest

The NYPD is failing to meet constitutional standards of treatment for transgender people in police custody. Instead, transgender New Yorkers have experienced unjust and inhumane practices that violate their rights. By adopting these policy recommendations, the NYPD can take a necessary step closer to fulfilling its own promise of courtesy, professionalism, and respect for the transgender community and all New Yorkers. We demand your leadership on this issue and the immediate implementation of the Proposed Policy for the Treatment of Transgender People in NYPD Custody.


The Undersigned.

Sign petition

Name: Glo Ross on May 5, 2009

# 2
Name: Jennifer Ramirez on May 5, 2009

# 3
Name: Gabriel Arkles on May 5, 2009

# 4
Name: Gael Guevara on May 5, 2009

# 5
Name: Nathan Metrick on May 5, 2009

# 6
Name: Valentina Simmons on May 5, 2009
All we are asking is for the same respect that would be shown any other person.

# 7
Name: Kathryn Belcher on May 5, 2009

# 8
Name: Dr. Edgar Rivera Colon on May 6, 2009

# 9
Name: Al Davidian on May 6, 2009

# 10
Name: Catherine Gaffney on May 6, 2009

# 11
Name: Ronan Kelly on May 6, 2009

# 12
Name: Victoria Grace on May 7, 2009

# 13
Name: K Applegate on May 7, 2009

# 14
Name: Alyssa &Quot;Jacks&Quot; Overstreet on May 7, 2009

# 15
Name: Adam Edge on May 7, 2009

# 16
Name: John Collis on May 7, 2009

# 17
Name: Catherine Granum on May 7, 2009
This is important for and efficient and fair policing.

# 18
Name: Terell Richardson on May 7, 2009

# 19
Name: Anonymous on May 7, 2009

# 20
Name: Anonymous on May 7, 2009

# 21
Name: Phoebe Cox on May 7, 2009

# 22
Name: Maegan BetEnvia on May 7, 2009

# 23
Name: Aaron Miner on May 7, 2009

# 24
Name: Rae Henaghan on May 7, 2009

# 25
Name: Ben Stock Of Brainpower on May 7, 2009

# 26
Name: Sarah Sykes on May 8, 2009

# 27
Name: L T on May 8, 2009

# 419
Name: Anonymous on Aug 11, 2009

# 420
Name: Adam Viera on Aug 11, 2009

# 421
Name: Kyle Lafferty on Aug 11, 2009

# 422
Name: Catlin Rideout on Aug 11, 2009

# 423
Name: Jennifer Thibodeau on Aug 12, 2009

# 424
Name: Elizabeth Solimine, MPH on Aug 12, 2009

# 425
Name: Jackie Breyer on Aug 12, 2009

# 426
Name: Geraldine Solimine on Aug 12, 2009

# 427
Name: Marianne Cooper on Aug 12, 2009

# 428
Name: Erika MacDonald on Aug 12, 2009

# 429
Name: Cara Herbitter on Aug 12, 2009

# 430
Name: Alison Alpert on Aug 12, 2009

# 431
Name: Sand Chang on Aug 13, 2009

# 432
Name: Jessica Yunker on Aug 13, 2009

# 433
Name: Narelle Ellendon on Aug 13, 2009

# 434
Name: Amanda Harris on Aug 13, 2009

# 435
Name: Tina Santiago on Aug 13, 2009

# 436
Name: Camille A. Abrahams on Aug 13, 2009

# 437
Name: Robert Cohen on Aug 14, 2009

# 438
Name: Elise Schuster on Aug 17, 2009

# 439
Name: Nell Hirschmann-Levy on Aug 23, 2009

# 440
Name: Jennifer Roman on Sep 10, 2009

# 441
Name: Kim Watson on Sep 11, 2009
Comments: I am hoping the NYPD can see this as history in the making to allow us to be as visible as possible . Help us to help them stop the dicrimination to the transgender community. Community Healthcare Network Transgender Program.

# 442
Name: M. Dru Levasseur on Sep 11, 2009

# 443
Name: Joseph M Colucci on Sep 24, 2009

# 444
Name: GaëL Krajzman Johns on Oct 16, 2009

# 445
Name: Sarah Patterson on Nov 8, 2009

# 446
Name: Phillipe Kleefield on Dec 4, 2009

# 447
Name: Darakshan Raja on Dec 20, 2009

# 448
Name: Stephanie Quainoo on Dec 27, 2009

# 449
Name: Jason Li on Jan 17, 2010

# 450
Name: Samantha on Feb 17, 2010

# 451
Name: Anonymous on Feb 26, 2010
# 452
Name: Aida Miron on Feb 26, 2010
Comments: I share my view with the undersigned. It is time we are respected as

lawful citizens of New York regardless of our gender.

Name: Lucky S. Michaels on Feb 26, 2010
Comments: MCCNY Homeless Youth Services; Sylvia's Place

Thursday, February 25, 2010

more ask and tell

Despite more top military brass questioning "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" this week – including Gen. David Petraeus – key members of Congress are still on the fence.
And as the right wing attacks grow more desperate, we're responding with the one thing they can't argue against: military personnel – gay and straight – who know firsthand how destructive this law is.

We're signing up an army of service members and their friends and family to help us end this discrimination once and for all. Will you help?
Take this short survey on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" – and then pass it along to everyone you know with any personal connections to the military.
We're ratcheting up the pressure on Congress, the White House, and military leaders
to move quickly to repeal this law.

And as we do, no voices are more powerful than those of service members and their loved ones.

When right-wing groups claim that ending this law would amount to "radical social engineering," or when they say that anyone in favor of repeal must not know much about the military – it's these service members and their families who have the authority to speak the truth.

Right now, there are an estimated 1 million lesbian and gay veterans in the United States, largely unidentified and unconnected – and there are millions more straight veterans and military family members who have not had the chance to speak out.
These are voices Congress needs to hear from. We need your help to find them.

HRC supporters have already sent thousands of emails and calls to key leaders, and we'll ask you to do that again soon – but this survey will help us find the voices to end this unconscionable discrimination.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010



West End Intergenerational Residence HDFC, Inc. has closed financing and commenced construction on an exciting new housing development effort: True Colors Residence, located in Central Harlem.

True Colors Residence will be New York City’s first permanent housing facility with support services for 18-24 year old lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth with a history of homelessness. The undertaking was conceived by West End Executive Director Colleen Jackson, and by musical artist Cyndi Lauper and Ms. Lauper’s manager Lisa Barbaris. The project entails the construction of a new, energy-efficient multifamily building containing 30 studio apartments, indoor and outdoor community space for residents, and a computer room and resource library. The building is named in honor of Cyndi’s Lauper’s support for the project and for West End, and references Ms. Lauper’s hit song, “True Colors.”

“Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth living on the streets and in foster care need our support more than ever,” said Cyndi Lauper. “In New York City, the True Colors Residence is going to play a big role in providing these young people with the leg up and encouragement they need. I am thrilled that construction has already begun and I am honored to be a part of this important project.”

Borough President Scott M. Stringer said, “West End has provided transitional housing for hundreds of homeless families and individuals over the years. Finding safe, affordable housing is step one for New Yorkers working to build a better life for themselves, and the groundbreaking for True Colors will create a refuge for some of our city’s most at risk young people, specifically the many homeless LGBT youth in our City. I applaud all of the work done by West End and Cyndi Lauper to design and launch this welcome mat for Central Harlem.”

To read the full True Colors Residence press release visit our website.

Jesus Was Gay?

By Rev. Dr. Kenneth Brown, Advisory Board Member to Other Sheep for Asia

In this article, Dr. Kenneth Dobson says "I am ready to agree that Jesus was gay."

Sir Elton John has made headlines claiming that Jesus was gay

I read this week that Sir Elton John has made headlines claiming that Jesus was gay. The quote was:

JESUS was GAY - according to the gospel of SIR ELTON JOHN.
Source: An article by US Editor Pete Samson in the February 19th Internet issue of The Sun

The singer makes his controversial claim about the Lord in a new US interview that will enrage America's bible belt.

Elton, 62, declares as he pours out his heart to a magazine: "I think Jesus was a compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems."

He adds: "Jesus wanted us to be loving and forgiving. I don't know what makes people so cruel. Try being a gay woman in the Middle East - you're as good as dead."

I am ready to agree that Jesus was gay

I am ready to agree that Jesus was gay.

I am not only ready to accept, I am ready to insist, that Jesus was gay, black, feminine, Hispanic (in Texas, for example), Christian (in Burma, for example), a migrant, an immigrant, a liberal, and that Jesus was in Auschwitz, in Salem (you know when), at Gettysburg, in Stalingrad ... wherever people are suffering Jesus is there, and radically one of them ... not just for them, but with them, one of them.

If Elton John needs Jesus to be gay for him, Jesus will be glad to be gay. Jesus let the "loose woman" wash his feet and dry them with her hair, and you know what THAT meant. You aren't sure? Well, use your imagination.

The theological problem doesn't come when we are one of those who are tortured, marginalized, abused, terrorized, or suffering, but when we are one of the abusers, the corrupters, the despots or the bigots. When we then claim Jesus is on our side, we will likely hear, "I never knew you" (Matthew 7:23). Strom Thurman, James Dobson (no relation) and Jerry Falwell cannot expect to be in the same line-up as their victims unless they were radically transformed in a process that went unreported. The trouble comes to even more of us when we are decent and basically good, and not involved, just minding our own business and keeping our noses clean. We will be surprised to find the fence is too razor sharp to sit on, and the weight of our non-involvement will weigh too heavily to keep us from being sliced right up the ... well, it isn't a pretty picture.

But, in reference to Jesus' gender orientation . . .

But, I think Sir Elton was referring to Jesus' gender orientation for which there is inadequate evidence to draw a firm conclusion one way or another. However, to say there is a grey area here is already going to offend those clinging to the buckle in the Bible belt.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

review by Michel Fitos

Submitted by Michel on Thu, 02/18/2010 - 20:37

Kicked Out
by Sassafras Lowrey

There is no One True Way to raise children, particularly as a queer parent. A large percentage of the time, I feel like the parenting choices I make are a direct reaction to my childhood, an effort to keep my kids from having to live through the same heartbreaks and setbacks. As I creep ever-closer to middle age, the harsh reality of what it was like to live as a queer youth has more or less faded to the dull roar of "it sucked, but I lived through it." This past weekend, I sat down to read Kicked Out by Sassafras Lowrey and was reminded what a long road it was to get here, to this house, these kids, this family, these steadfast and loyal friends.

It's impossible for me to discuss queer youth without talking about the friends of my 20s. There were three in particular, all around the same age. From the moment we met, we knew that we had large things in common: our friends were few, our families didn't know what do with us, and our kids were all around the same age. Although our children lent us a thin veneer of heteronormativity, we were all as queer as the proverbial three dollar bill. We were an undeniably strange quartet. All of us were imprecisely Goth, rail-thin, and right up in your face. Other young mothers could smell our queerness a mile away; other young queers were allergic to our kids. They all circled the wagons at our approach. Whether by choice or by necessity, we kept to ourselves, we became family.

My friends nowadays, earnest people in their 30s, talk about waiting until they're ready to have children. Ready? When they're born, then you start to know what you need to be ready for. We were certainly not ready for children back then, not a single one of us. We just woke up one day, already parents.

I was lucky: I had a husband, a solidly middle class boy who was mostly done with college. We married two days before our daughter was born, just weeks after I turned 21. The relative certainty of financial solvency gave me unheard-of freedom: I was able to explore what kind of person I wanted to be. My friends had no such opportunity. Even with the meager cushion of welfare, their survival depended on their wits and cunning.

They all had their various ways of making ends meet: sex work of various sorts, telemarketing, and other variously soul-sucking occupations. It was exhausting, it was demoralizing, it was utterly unsustainable. It quickly became apparent to each of them in turn that there is always a man out there, somewhere, who will want what you have to offer. They learned that by giving up your identity, sometimes you can ensure your survival.

It's very easy to portray queer youth homelessness solely as a number, because the numbers are, quite frankly, shocking: 40% of the nation's homeless youth are LGBTQ. There are other horrifying numbers, too: this book will tell you sobering numbers like what percentage of gay teens experienced a negative reaction from their families when they came out, what percentage of queer youth attempt suicide, and many more, all carefully and thoroughly footnoted. There are bleak discussions of terminology: runaway vs. throwaway vs. thrownaway. It is full of facts and numbers, and those things are important, especially for people who might not be aware of the enormity and severity of the issue.

From the vantage point of our comfy couches, it's easy to read even such shocking numbers as the ones above and dismiss them as statistics. Often, it takes personal experience to make an issue seem real. If you haven't faced this sort of terrifying uncertainty yourself, it's nearly impossible to grasp. The real strength of Kicked Out is how, by telling survivors' stories in their own voices, the stories feel viscerally real. The contributions all feel very soul-baring and Truthful-with-a-capital-T, particularly the incredible photos by Samantha Box. One photo in particular captures two people embracing, one kissing the other's shoulder, that wordlessly speaks volumes.

In the introduction, editor Sassafras Lowrey writes about being kicked out at the age of seventeen:

I needed a book about how to live through this more than I needed to know I had somewhere to stay, to know I had a way to get to school or to know what I would have for dinner. I needed a book to prove to me that survival was possible.

And this is, very clearly, a book about survival. It isn't a particularly uplifting or cheery book, nor should it be. It's not grammatically flawless (as is unapologetically explained in the publisher's note). It is, quite simply, a very honest and starkly beautiful collection of stories from people who have Been There.

There are so many people that would benefit greatly from reading this book: parents of queer youth, providers and advocates, members of the LGBTQ community-at-large, and most importantly, youth who have been kicked out. I would recommend it, in fact, to anyone who knows, is, has been, or might ever be or know someone who has, in Sassafras' words, "lost their friends, families and homes because of whom they love or how they define their gender."

* Michel's blog

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sylvia Rae Rivera
8th Anniversary of her Death

1951 - February 19, 2002

Thanks to wikipedia, we learn that Rivera was born July 2, 1952 and raised in New Your City and lived most of her life in or near that city. She was of Puerto Rican and Venezuelan descent. Her birth name was Ray (or Rey) Rivera. She was abandoned by her birth father José Rivera early in life and became an orphan after her mother committed suicide when Rivera was three years old. Rivera was then raised by her Venezuelan grandmother, who disapproved of Rivera's effeminate behavior, particularly after Rivera began to wear women's makeup in fourth grade.[3] As a result, Rivera began living on the streets at the age of eleven, where she joined a community of drag queens.

She was one of those rabble rousing resisters to queer oppression who literally led the charge at the Stonewall Inn, New York City, on the night of 27th of June, 1969, the night that a riot at the bar, touched off the open radicalization of the Gay Liberation Movement fighting back against police harassment directed at the most visible members of the community. She became a founding member of both the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance and helped found STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries), a group dedicated to helping homeless young street transwomen, with her friend Marsha P. Johnson.

Rivera spent most of her life at the forefront of both transgender and gay activism, tirelessly advocating and demonstrating for LGBT rights, inclusive social policies and struggling against transphobia.

In 1970 Rivera formed a group called S.T.A.R. - Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries - to fight for the civil rights of transgender people, and provide them with social services support. The S.T.A.R. House lasted for two years until her crack habit caused her to lose the house. It was the first institution of its kind in New York City, and inspired the creation of future shelters for homeless street queens.

In 2000, she reformed S.T.A.R. pressuring the Human Rights Campaign to be more inclusive of transgender people. Even when hospitalized with liver cancer, Rivera never stopped working for the civil rights of transgender people and several hours before she passed away on February 19, 2002 she was meeting with LGBT community leaders.

An active member of the Metropolitan Community Church of New York, Rivera ministered through the Church's food pantry, which provided food to the hungry. Recalling her life as a child on the streets, she remained a passionate advocate for queer youth, and MCC New York's queer youth shelter is called Sylvia's Place in her honor.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentines Call to action

As people around the world prepare to celebrate St. Valentine's Day, yesterday's arrests in Kenya highlight the continuing struggle among LGBTQI couples for the right to bless and build consensual, loving relationships.

Five guests preparing to celebrate a private same-sex wedding were arrested in Mtwapa after locals alerted the police of the intended nuptials. Reports also suggest that two of the men were victims of mob violence, as a crowd gathered around the villa, and later, the police station where the men were being held. Friday's raid followed a similar situation on Thursday, when officials intended to break up another ceremony but the couple and guests escaped before being arrested.

Kenyan police officials say the Friday wedding party will be subjected to an internal medical examination before charging them with homosexuality, a charge punishable with imprisonment. District Officials and local Christian and Muslim clerics have publicly praised the local community for their diligence in reporting the men. Their statements suggest that there is little distinction in public perceptions between committed same-sex couples and the culture of sex-tourism which is prevalent in local coastal resort towns.

These incidents continue to bring focus to the struggles of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in eastern Africa:
In Blantyr, Malawi, a judge recently denied bail for the second time to Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, citing fear of violence against them as the reason. They remain in jail after being arrested during their engagement celebration in December.
In Uganda, tensions are running high as Pastor Martin Ssempa continues to organise a "million-man" march on 17 February in support of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, a bill proposing harsh sentencing, including the death penalty in some cases. Local human rights organisations in Kampala are bracing themselves for the possibility of escalating violence against LGBTQI people in the wake of the march.
These events, in light of the history of Valentine's Day, carry a sense of tragic irony. The Catholic Encyclopedia mentions that one of the three St. Valentines associated with the 14th of February was an African whose history has largely been lost. He was martyred with several friends in unknown circumstances. Today, I am keenly aware that too many of our African siblings struggling for equal rights to self-expression and loving relationships have been lost in unknown circumstances. May we resolve that not one more lesbian will be raped without outcry; or a transgender sibling murdered without investigation; or a same-sex couple victimised by mob actions and religiously condoned violence without it being known, exposed and remembered.

This Valentine's Day, I call on people throughout the world to remember, pray and act in support of our LGBTQI and allied communities in Africa. MCC has African members who are involved in these continuing struggles locally, continentally and internationally. Whether testifying before US Congressional Committees in Washington, DC or working with passion on the ground in churches, hidden cell groups or NGOs in Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, and South Africa, they are standing courageously for the right to love. I call on our entire Fellowship and our friends to stand in Spirit and solidarity with each one of these freedom fighters and liberty lovers.

This Valentine's Day, I call on religious and civic leaders throughout the world to condemn religiously fuelled anti-homosexuality violence, whether carried out with stones or brutal legislation. Gay bashing is gay bashing, whatever the form. Our people bear the scars of homoprejudice in our bodies and lives. We proclaim that the time has come for homoprejudice to be named for what it is----a sinful prejudice that steals, kills and destroys precious lives created by a good and just Creator.

This Valentine's day, I call on lovers throughout the world, whether we are able to do so publicly or only privately, to give thanks for the partners God has given us. May we build lives of substance and mutual care----a good, blessed and joyful thing to do. Let us value our love with the fulness of sacred promises, resisting any lessening of our relationships and commitments through external or internal pressures. Together, we stand as Light, braving the winds of misinformation and unknowing. Together, we stand as Truth in a world that hungers for genuine love.

Our prayers and shouts of protest go out for those arrested in Kenya this weekend. We call for the immediate release of our brothers, in the name of all that is just and right.

May God bless and protect them,


The Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson

This statement prepared in conjunction with The Moderator's Global Justice Team,
Rev. Pressley Sutherland, Global Justice Liaison for Africa, and Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Chair.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Kicked OUT comes out...

The national release for Kicked Out was part of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force’s 2010 Creating Change conference. The reading was last Friday night at the conference hotel in Dallas, we sold out of books and it was incredibly well received (you can see more about it at

NYC: Partnering with the NYC LGBT Center ( Kicked Out is going to have it’s NYC release there on Friday March 19th. This event is going to include readings by NYC based contributors (if you are in NYC and I don’t know it and/or are close to the city and would like to participate in this event PLEASE let me know)

Boston: April 20 + 21st I’m being brought in by several local groups there will be release events specific for youth involved in those programs and then a city wide event. This is one of the times I’d LOVE to have recordings from folks (see previous email) OR if you are going to be in the Boston area and want to participate let me know ASAP.

NYC: April 24th we will be doing a second NYC event this time at Bluestockings the city’s radical independent bookstore- very queer, very wonderful, and a great place to support. This event just got booked late late late last week any NYC folks around I would LOVE for you to participate in this, anyone going to be in the city please let me know, and again I’d love to use recordings of other folks if you have access to technology to make that happen.

I would LOVE to see release events happen in other cities if that’s something you would be interested in organizing. The easiest places to make a release event happen are at independent queer or queer friendly bookstores. If you are interested in having an event but are nervous about contacting the bookstore please let me know, I’m happy to be a contact point for them about scheduling the event (though I will of course need lots of input from you since it will be your event), and certainly with getting books ordered through Homofactus Press etc. Let me know what you need and I will do anything I can to support you.
Some of you have already talked with me about trying to put a bigger event together partnered with a college or university with funds to bring me in and have me be part of it, that’s something I’m open to doing with any of you, so please get in contact if that’s something your interested in and we can discuss details.

p.s. all of your books were sent out so I’d imagine if you haven’t already received your copy you will be getting it any day now!

Looking forward to talking with you soon


Friday, February 5, 2010

Other Sheep's Open Letter about Uganda

Soulforce LogoAn Open Letter from Soulforce to Jan and Paul Crouch, founders of the Trinity Broadcasting Network, and the Evangelical Christian broadcasters who are featured on Lighthouse Television, TBN's affiliate in Uganda, including: Matthew Crouch, Joyce Meyer, Andrew Wommack, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, and Franklin Graham:

By now you are well aware of the anti-homosexual bill pending before the Parliament of Uganda. We urge you to denounce this bill. Use your personal friendships with President and Mrs. Museveni, with MP David Bahati (your Christian colleague who proposed this bill), and with Stephen Langa, (the Ugandan Christian organizer behind the bill) to take a public and passionate stand against it.

The media are blaming the visit to Uganda by three of your colleagues for this despicable and truly un-Christian law. In fact, for years you have used your Lighthouse Television programs, your radio broadcasts, and your massive public meetings to warn Ugandans of the so called "threat homosexuals pose to Bible-based values and the traditional African Family."

In no small part you are already responsible for the current call by Ugandan leaders to enforce the old law condemning lesbian and gay Ugandans to up to 14 years in prison. This new law increases that sentence to life imprisonment and even death by hanging. Denounce this new bill or the blood of lesbian and gay Ugandans will be on your hands.

It isn't just the "liberal media" who are condemning the bill. In mid-November, Exodus International, the ministry that promises to assist homosexuals in overcoming homosexuality, warned, "If homosexual behavior and knowledge of such behavior is criminalized and prosecuted, as proposed in this bill, church and ministry leaders will be unable to assist hurting men, women and youth who might otherwise seek help in addressing this personal issue." While Soulforce does not agree with Exodus that lesbian and gay people need to be "cured," we wholeheartedly agree with their position on this hateful bill.

Warren Throckmorton, a member of the Clinical Advisory Board of the American Association of Christian Counselors warned that this legislation would make their mission "to extend the love and compassion of Christ to all" a difficult if not impossible task.

Your colleague, mega-church pastor Rick Warren, in a very public video appeal to his fellow clergy in Uganda, gives five reasons why Ugandan Christians should not support the bill: (1) it is "unjust, extreme and un-Christian; (2) it would "force pastors to report their pastoral conversations with homosexuals to authorities; (3) " would have a chilling effect on your ministry to the hurting... homosexuals who are HIV positive will be reluctant to seek or receive care, comfort and compassion from our churches out of fear of being reported; (4) "All life, no matter how humble or broken, whether unborn or dying, is precious to God... It would be inconsistent to save some lives and wish death on others..." And (5) "the freedom to make moral choices, and our right to free expression, are gifts endowed by God." Warren reminds the clergy that Uganda is a democratic country "...and in a democracy everyone has a right to speak up." Warren concludes by urging them "to speak out against the proposed law."

The People of Soulforce urge you to take Rick Warren seriously. It is very possible that your silence on this matter will convince the people of Uganda that it is God's will to condemn homosexuals to life imprisonment or even death by hanging. Your powerful media voices have made you superstars to Ugandans. We implore you to use your power to denounce this bill. Wouldn't it be wonderful if this time the Christian community became known for love and justice rather than fulfilling the stereotype of the "liberal media" as 'hate-filled bigots?


This bill has been condemned by leaders of Western nations including the Prime Ministers of Canada, Australia, and Great Britain and the President of the United States. The European Parliament passed a resolution against the bill and threatened to cut financial aid to Uganda if it is enacted. They described the bill as "state-legislated genocide."

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch urge Uganda to shelve the bill and decriminalize homosexuality.

The 16,000 members of the HIV Clinicians Society of South Africa and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS warned that excluding marginalised groups would compromise efforts to stop the spread of AIDS in Uganda where 5.4% of the adult population is infected with HIV.

The Sunday Times in South Africa warned Uganda that it is in danger of being "dragged back to the dark and evil days of Idi Amin."

The New York Times stated unequivocally "that such barbarism (in the bill) is intolerable and will make Uganda an international pariah."

The Washington Post labeled the bill "ugly and ignorant", "barbaric", and "that it is even being considered puts Uganda beyond the pale of civilized nations."

The Los Angeles Times warned that the bill would cause gay Ugandans to face an "impossible, insulting, historical, cruel and utterly false choice of having to choose between being gay and being African."

The Anglican Reverend Canon Gideon Byamugisha said that the Bill "would become state-legislated genocide."

The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has said in a public interview that he did not see how any Anglican could support it: "Overall, the proposed legislation is of shocking severity and I can't see how it could be supported by any Anglican who is committed to what the Communion has said in recent decades. Apart from invoking the death penalty, it makes pastoral care impossible - it seeks to turn pastors into informers."

The Vatican legal attaché to the United Nations stated that "Pope Benedict is opposed to 'unjust discrimination' against gay men and lesbians."



Stephen Langa, the March 2009 workshop organiser, specifically cited an unlicensed converstion therapist named Richard A. Cohen who states in a book that was given to Langa and other prominent Ugandans,

"Homosexuals are at least 12 times more likely to molest children than heterosexuals; homosexual teachers are at least 7 times more likely to molest a pupil; homosexual teachers are estimated to have committed at least 25 percent of pupil molestation; 40 percent of molestation assaults were made by those who engage in homosexuality."

These statements were based on faulty studies performed by Paul Cameron who has been expelled from the American Psychological Association, the Canadian Psychological Association and the American Sociological Association. Cohen, himself, confirmed the weaknesses of these studies, stating that when the book will be reprinted, these statistics will be removed.


Jeffrey Gettleman, writing for the New York Times, January 4, 2010, reported on "Americans' Role in Uganda Anti-Gay Push."

Erin Roach, posted on Baptist News, November 18, 2009, the news that "Exodus Opposes Uganda's Proposed Anti-Gay Law."

Baptist Press, December 13, 2009, announced that "Mega-Church Pastor Rick Warren Condemns Uganda Anti-Gay Bill.

The editors of Wikipedia have assembled the best history of this bill and the world's response:

YouTube carries the complete video of Rick Warren's Open Letter to the Clergy of Uganda*

*We wish to express our thanks to the Rev. Rick Warren for taking this rather courageous step on behalf of the lesbian and gay people of Uganda. Pastor Warren did everything in his power to avoid meeting with our gay and lesbian parents and their families in 2009 during the Soulforce American Family Outing. We have tried on many occasions to help him understand the tragic consequences of his own teachings about homosexuality and homosexuals. And though we continue hoping that he will meet with a Soulforce delegation to hear the scientific, historic, psychological and personal evidence that homosexuality is one of God's gifts, we pause in our pursuit just long enough to give him thanks for reaching out to save the lives of our lesbian sisters and gay brothers in Uganda. Thank you, Pastor Warren. We are grateful!

Adolescent Sex Conference in the Northwest

Best Practices - New Approaches
April 13th & 14th, 2010
at the Seaside Convention Center in Seaside, OR

Who should attend?

The Adolescent Sexuality Conference is for:

educators * health personnel * administrators * counselors
social and youth service workers * parents * clergy * teens
community members

Conference Sponsors:

ISA/Pride Surveys
Oregon Teen Pregnancy Task Force

Conference Steering Committee:

Aylett Wright, Community Volunteer
Brie Akins, Community Volunteer
Cascade AIDS Project
Insights Teen Parent Program
Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board
Open Adoption & Family Services
Oregon Attorney General's Sexual Assault Task Force
Oregon DHS, CAF Self-Sufficiency Programs
Oregon Public Health, Adolescent Health Program
Oregon Public Health, HIV/STD/TB Program
Oregon Teen Pregnancy Task Force
Pathfinder Academy
Planned Parenthood of the Columbia-Willamette
Planned Parenthood of Southwestern Oregon
PSU, Center for the Improvement of Child and Family Services
PSU, Regional Research Institute

My new Hero

The Associated Press
Thursday, February 4, 2010; 12:41 PM
MOHAWK, N.Y. -- The bullying by classmates and taunts of "homo" only got worse after Jacob began dyeing his hair and wearing eyeliner in eighth grade. One student scrawled "I hope you die" on his shoe, he said; another drew a pocket knife on him.

Jacob's grades dropped, and he missed school from fear. His father tried repeatedly to get school officials in their working-class village in upstate New York to help protect his son from harassment. The response by the Mohawk Central School District, according to a federal lawsuit, was to do "virtually nothing."

"Everything was bad," Jacob - who is identified as "J.L." in the lawsuit and didn't want to draw attention to his new school by having his last name used in this story - said this week. "I hyperventilated when I left the school ... and I didn't want to come back the next day, or ever."

The 15-year-old might soon get a measure of satisfaction. The lawsuit filed by Jacob and his father against the school district with the New York Civil Liberties Union could be close to settlement, according to both sides.

The negotiations come as the U.S. Department of Justice seeks to intervene in the case, citing the "important issues" it raises in enforcing federal civil rights laws.

"There is a growing recognition across the country that schools need to take harassment based on gender expression and homosexuality seriously," said NYCLU attorney Corey Stoughton. "If there is a settlement in this case, that's an affirmation of that principle."

Justice officials say it's the first time since 2000 that they have argued that Title IX, the antidiscrimination law affecting schools that receive federal funding, covers sex discrimination based on gender stereotypes - such as when a boy does not act or look stereotypically male. Stoughton said that while harassment based on gender nonconformity is widespread, there have been only a handful of legal cases like this nationwide.

Mohawk School Superintendent Joyce Caputo said the district denies allegations in the lawsuit, but she stressed they are working with the NYCLU and the Justice Department to settle the suit in a way that benefits everyone.

"We are committed to doing everything in our power to prevent bullying and to promote tolerance," she said.

Mohawk is a village of modest clapboard homes set near the river of the same name and just east of Utica. Jacob said he did not face serious problems until he went to Gregory B. Jarvis Junior/Senior High School as a seventh-grader in fall 2007.

That was about the time it became clearer that Jacob was different. By eighth grade, he wore eyeliner to school sometimes and would dye his hair bright blue or pink. He was out of the closet that school year.

"People would ask and I'd say, 'Yeah, I'm gay, whatever. Peace out,'" he said.

In an interview this week with his father at their home, Jacob said he was just being himself. That is, a teenager who loves to write songs, short stories and poems and who dreams about a career in the movies, maybe as a director or a writer.

Dressed in a blue fleece and jeans, Jacob talked effusively about pop culture - Pink is his favorite singer, "Orphan" a favorite movie. But his voice got softer when he talked about his experiences at Jarvis.

The lawsuit claims the principal and other district officials did not follow their own anti-harassment policies. Teachers blocked him from going to a "safe room" set up for him. One teacher told him he should be ashamed of himself for being gay, according to court papers.

Jacob's father, Robert Sullivan (he has a different last name), devoted himself to making sure his son was safe in school despite fighting Hodgkin's lymphoma.

"I put the cancer stuff aside," Sullivan said, "because he doesn't have anyone to defend himself beside me."

But Sullivan said he failed to make much progress.

"You listen to your child cry at night and wish he was dead, and wish he wasn't here. It's a hard thing to go through," Sullivan said. "And you know you've got to send him back there the next day."

The idea of a lawsuit came from someone at a support group Jacob attended, and the NYCLU sued in August. The Department of Justice asked to intervene last month, noting the suit's claims that Jacob was denied equal protections guaranteed in the Constitution and under Title IX, the antidiscrimination law affecting schools that receive federal funding.

The department would not comment on the litigation, but gay rights supporters saw its involvement as evidence of a strengthened commitment under the Obama administration to the rights of people who are gay or who do not conform to gender stereotypes.

However, it's now possible that a settlement will be reached before a judge decides whether the federal agency can intervene. The Justice Department would not comment in detail on the lawsuit.

Jacob this week seemed happy just to put the trauma behind him.

The family recently moved to the next town. Jacob started a new school and the experience has been like night and day, he said: "It's amazing. I have a lot of friends there."

Sullivan's cancer is in remission. He said it's nice to see his son smile again, and he has hopes for their future.

"As long as I can get to see him graduate high school," Sullivan said. "I think I can die happy."

Ask, and Tell

In just a few hours, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen will be meeting with senators about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Have military leaders heeded the growing call to end discrimination in the military? Not necessarily. A Pentagon spokesman said, "The Joint Chiefs have been thinking through how they would go about offering their best advice on this issue."

Don't you just love Washington double-speak?

We need Congress to know there's immense public pressure on this issue. As they decide how to respond to today's hearing – whether to push this repeal forward or push it aside – they need to hear from you immediately.

Tell your representative and senators to repeal this discriminatory law NOW.

In case you missed it, I'm forwarding the email I sent after President Obama's State of the Union speech, announcing our $2+ million campaign to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Please join us in this crucial effort – take the first step by sending your letter today.