Monday, December 24, 2007

GLBT DIGEST December 24, 2007

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Top 10 Gay Stories of 2007

by Jennifer Vanasco,

A lot of progress was made in 2007 in the United States - not throughbig gains, but through small important steps.

According to our friends over at NNN Rewind, 32 percent of Logo'sreaders believe that the passing of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act wasthe most important story of the year. We disagree, because Congress droppedit this week, deciding they didn't have the votes. Twenty-two percent ofreaders, though, thought that the on-going debate over gay marriage isimportant - we think so too, and put it at number three.

For the full tally of your thoughts on News and Politics, visit NNN Rewindhere.

Here's a quick look at the stories that topped 2007.

1. Presidential Candidates Take Gay Concerns Seriously
Gays and lesbians became major players in the Democratic primary racein 2007, with all of the candidates racing to assure us that they would(mostly) support our battle for civil rights.

LOGO (which owns 365gay) and HRC made history by hosting apresidential debate for the Democratic candidates in which Richardsonflubbed a question about choice, Kucinich rhapsodized about love and MelissaEtheridge impressed all of us with her wise questions.

Who could have predicted that a gay bill that seemed likely to passwould tear our community apart? The Employment Non-Discrimination Act thatwas put before the House of Representatives in September (and which passedCongress 235-184) did not include transgender protections - a billintroduced in April but not yet voted on, does.

HRC entered into a tug of war with transgender and other gay andlesbian organizations, debating two important values: incrementalism ( i.e.,winning in small steps) vs. full inclusion. It's still not clear which valuehas won - and it won't be for some time yet.

3. Gay Unions Move Forward
Advances were made in gay marriage and unions on many fronts thisyear. Washington state recognized domestic partnerships, Oregon and NewHampshire said they would recognize civil unions beginning in 2008 and NewJersey began to recognize civil unions (which caused a mess, when companieswere unsure about whether they were obligated to treat civil unions asmarriages.).

Iowa had gay marriage for one day thanks to a ruling that preventingthem was unconstitutional. The resumption of gay marriage there waits on anappeal.

New York agreed to recognize gay marriages performed legally in otherjurisdictions, and a Vermont panel came close to wrapping up discussion onwhether civil unions there be converted to marriage. And Massachusetts votedto keep marriage equality.

On the other hand, Calif. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed asame-sex marriage bill and the Maryland Supreme Court upheld a gay marriageban.

4. AIDS Numbers Were Overstated
The United Nations announced that it had overstated the size of theAIDS epidemic - new infections have dropped every year since their peak inthe late 1990s.

So, instead of 39.5 million infected worldwide, we are left with - 33.2million.

Still seems like an awfully big number.

5. Public Opinion Turns For Us - Kind of
A survey in June announced that for the first time, a majority ofAmericans believe that sexual orientation cannot be changed. Unfortunately,in a separate poll, a similar majority declared themselves to be against gaymarriage. Gay unions though? Americans are for them, by 56 percent.

This sort of thing could give a girl whiplash. They're for us! They'reagainst us! They're for us!

6. The Matthew Shepard Act Rises - and then Tanks
What looked hopeful turned into a crushing defeat, when Congressdropped the Matthew Shepard Act in December. The hate crimes bill passed theHouse in April, and the Senate in September, where it was attached to adefense bill. But it got tied up in the committee that harmonizes the Houseand Senate versions, and when it became clear that the defense bill wouldn'tpass with the Shepard Act attached, Congress dropped it.

The bill would have added sexual orientation and gender identity to alist of hate crimes.

7. Don't Ask, Don't Tell Moves Toward Retirement
Despite Gen. Peter Pace's declaration that "gays are immoral," moreand more military officers and legislative leaders in 2007 called for theend of the ban, including Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, the chairman of theJoint Chiefs of Staff when the ban was enacted.

In November, 28 other retired generals called for an end to the ban ina letter in the New York Times, saying, that gay servicemembers have servedtheir country honorably.

SLDN estimates that 65,000 gay men and lesbians now serve in theAmerican armed forces and that there are more than one million gay veterans.

8. FDA Renews Gay Blood Ban
The FDA announced that they would keep the ban forbidding any man whohas ever had sex with a man from giving blood.

The American Red Cross, the American Association of Blood Banks andAmerica's Blood Centers all testified last year that the ban "is medicallyand scientifically unwarranted" and that "it does not appear rational tobroadly differentiate sexual transmission via male-to-male sexual activityfrom that via heterosexual activity on scientific grounds."

Yet the Bush Administration chose to keep it. Surprise, surprise.

9. Scandals and Controversies
The biggest gay scandal of 2007 was of course Larry Craig'sunfortunately wide stance in an airport restroom.

But that wasn't the only gay bathroom scandal among Republicanleaders.

Rep. Bob Allen offered $20 to a cop for oral sex in the bathroom of apark (35 percent of NNN readers thought this was the most notoriousRepublican gay scandal after Craig) and Louisiana state senate candidateJoey Difatta was caught in a sting in a mall restroom (6 percent).

Other scandals? GOP state chair Donald Fleischman was accused ofseducing and fondling a teenage boy (7 percent), Washington state Sen.Richard Curtis supposedly hired a rent boy (the winner at 37 percent) andformer head of the Young Republican National Federation Glenn Murphy wascalled out for allegedly forcing sex on another man (13 percent).

This year had its share of gay-centered controversies, too. Let's notforget Ann Coulter calling John Edwards a "fag," Isaiah Washington using the"f" word to refer to fellow Grey's Anatomy actor T.R. Knight (who came outduring the controversy) and basketball star Tim Hardaway saying that he"hates gay people."

He has since apologized.

10. Kicking Down the Closet Door
Happily, a number of gay folks came out this year, directly orindirectly, including T. R. Knight, David Hyde Pierce, Jodie Foster, NeilPatrick Harris and Lance Bass. Every time a celeb comes out, it makes everygay person's life easier.

In short, 2007 was a good year. Let's hope that 2008 has even moresuccesses - and fewer scandals.


The Advocate

Katharine Jefferts Schori for President
She's among our most committed allies in the battle for LGBT inclusion andequality -- and she happens to wear a clerical collar.

By Teresa Morrison
December 19, 2007
An exclusive posted December 19, 2007

It used to be that the gays merely caused popular disgust. Then in theBush-Cheney era -- made possible by the Republicans' ability to capitalizeon our potential to incite the aforementioned popular disgust -- JerryFalwell, Pat Robertson, and their conservative Christian minions blamed usin quick succession for 9/11, the Southeast Asian tsunami, HurricaneKatrina, and the U.S. military's mounting death toll in Afghanistan andIraq.

Accustomed as we are to being fingered by religious leaders for all mannerof secular cataclysm, it seems an extraordinary turnabout that now, even aswe figure prominently in an ecclesiastical crisis, Episcopal leaders, farfrom ringing us up for the damages, either downplay our role in the fight orstand up for our honor.

When its clergy and lay members voted on December 8 to secede from the U.S.Episcopal Church -- by a dizzying margin of 172-22 -- the diocese of SanJoaquin in central California became the first entire diocese to leave thenational church in its 200-year-plus history. (Over the last several years,more than 50 individual conservative congregations nationwide have alsosplit, and three additional dioceses have taken initial steps towardsecession but have not yet formally broken ties: Fort Worth, Texas; Quincy,Ill.; and Pittsburgh.) Even during the Civil War, when congregations werebitterly divided along North-South lines, the Episcopal Church remainedunified in dogma and practice -- whatever the animus between its Union andConfederate sympathizers.

more . . . . .


Gay Former LA Cop Loses Suit Against City

by Newscenter Staff
Posted: December 23, 2007 - 1:00 pm ET

(Los Angeles, California) A Los Angeles jury, of which two members were gay,has found that the city's first openly gay police officer was not the victimof harassment, and retaliation by the department.

The decision came 11 years after Mitchell Grobeson began litigation in thecase. It was the second lawsuit he brought against the LAPD.

In 1988 Grobeson filed a civil rights suit against the force. It wassettled in 1993 with a court settlement that the city provide gay andlesbian officers a discrimination-free workplace.

Grobeson returned to the force, but found little was done to implement theagreement.

Two years later, in 1995, he was accused of discrediting the force bywearing his uniform and attempting to encourage gays in West Hollywood tojoin the force.

more . . . . .


To Form a More Perfect Union: Marriage Equality News

Information, news, and discussion about the legal recognition of same-sexcouples and their families, including marriages, domestic partnerships,civil unions, adoptions, foster children and similar issues.

Go to the website, above, for the following articles:

New Hampshire: After Jan. 1, state workers and many others who celebrate acivil union will be able to add their same-sex partners to their health careplans. Albeit with a tax consequence. But some, perhaps many, gay andlesbian workers won't have the same opportunity. That's because employerswho self-insure their workers - as opposed to buying a health care planthrough an insurance company - will have discretion to extend or denybenefits to their employees' gay partners. And the self-insured populationis not a small one in New Hampshire, according to the state insurancedepartment: It's estimated at 46 percent of the insured population.
Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, for example, is self-insured. So isTarget. Wal-Mart does not extend benefits to same sex partners. Target,meanwhile, does. Neither company returned calls seeking how they'll respondto the new civil union law after Jan. 1.

As we approach the fourth anniversary of Goodridge v. Department of PublicHealth, the Supreme Judicial Court decision that granted marriage equalityto same-sex couples in Massachusetts, I find myself reflecting on theprofound impact of this decision in my life. Before November 18, 2003, I hadnot considered marriage as anything more than an outdated, sexistinstitution. With the energy of the spurned outsider, I rejected marriageand all its trappings. I had no expectation that, in my life time, same-sexcouples would be allowed to participate in this exclusively heterosexualritual. So it is with utter surprise that I find that the last two and ahalf years of my life have been "all marriage, all the time": first writingCourting Equality: A Documentary History of America's First Legal Same-SexMarriages-and then, over the last six months, talking about marriageequality to audiences from Portland, Maine, to Blue Ridge, Georgia. What'sclear to me, from all these conversations, is that the marriage equalitymovement is changing the landscape for same-sex couples and their familiesacross America.


National Gay News

Go to the website, above, for the following articles:

Gays, Families Face Difficult Holiday Times
It is no secret that the holidays put a lot of stress on the family, andthat these are not always times of peace and joy in every household. Whetherbecause of serious illness or recent death in the family, or perhaps becauseof substance abuse or marital strife or other dysfunctionality, many ormaybe most families at Christmas don't bear much resemblance to amade-for-TV movie.

Controversial Poll Shows Wide Prevalence of Bisexuality
A national poll showing that bisexuals account for half the number of peoplewho identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual is drawing mixed reactions.Manybisexual men and women told the Blade that the findings, part of a pollfunded by Human Rights Campaign and controlled by City University of NewYork's Hunter College, are enlightening.


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