National News Briefs
Las Vegas, NV - First Out Lesbian Elected to Nevada Legislature
The current vice-chair for the Stonewall Democrats of Southern Nevada has made history. On June 12, Pastor Patricia Spearman became the first openly gay woman to be elected to the Nevada Legislature. She is also the second African American to be elected into this Legislature as well. Her victory over incumbent Senator John Lee did not come as a shock. His right wing attitude and inability to change has left the majority of Nevada civilians fed up and disappointed. Lee is an anti-equality, anti-environment, anti-choice longtime member of the Good Olâ€™ Boys club. Spearman won by an overwhelming amount of votes and has plans to move forward with a more progressive and democratic platform. She faces no GOP opponent in the fall. Three openly gay men also won Democratic primaries for legislative seats, meaning Nevada could go from one to four openly LGBT state lawmakers.
Spearman achieved victory through a coalition of Nevada progressive groups. Lt. Col. Spearman (Ret) was also very vociferous regarding repeal of Donâ€™t Ask, Donâ€™t Tell, the ban on LGBTs serving openly in the military. â€śItâ€™s all about equality,â€ť she always emphasized. This would never have happened without the 24/7 work of the Nevada Conservation League, Planned Parenthood, PLAN Action, Progress Now Nevada and scores of volunteers.
Source: Las Vegas Sun
Cook County, IL - Stateâ€™s Attorney Motion Claims Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional
The Cook County Stateâ€™s Attorneyâ€™s office conceded in a court filing June 14 that Illinoisâ€™ ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional.
Two recent lawsuits against Cook County Clerk David Orr claim that not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the Illinois Constitution. The stateâ€™s attorneyâ€™s response agrees with that claim. â€śWe believe the plaintiffs are correct in their assertion that the Illinois Constitution upholds marriage equality for same sex couples just as it does for opposite sex couples,â€ť spokeswoman Sally Daly said in an email.
The Illinois Attorney Generalâ€™s office has also said it plans to file a brief in support of the lawsuits, and Gov. Pat Quinn has voiced his support for gay marriage. The lawsuits were filed late last month by the gay rights group Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. ACLU Attorney John Knight said he wasnâ€™t surprised that the stateâ€™s attorney agrees with the argument, particularly since Orr himself has made clear that he believes same-sex couples should be granted marriage licenses.
The next hearing in this case will be June 21, when a motion to combine the two lawsuits will be heard by Judge Moshe Jacobius.
Source: Chicago Tribune
Golden Valley, MN - General Mills Opposes Minnesota Gay Marriage Ban
Who pissed in Brian Brownâ€™s cornflakes? One day after General Mills Executive Ken Charles, vice president of Diversity and Inclusion, testified before Congress about why the states need inclusive employment nondiscrimination legislation, the cereal company announced that it opposes efforts to write a same-sex marriage ban into the Minnesota state constitution.
â€śMarriage as the union of one man and one woman is profoundly in the common good, and it is especially important for children,â€ť exhorted National Organization for Marriageâ€™s President Brian Brown. â€śGeneral Mills makes billions marketing cereal to parents of young children. It has now effectively declared a war on marriage with its own customers when it tells the country that it is opposed to preserving traditional marriage, which is what the Minnesota Marriage Protection Amendment does.â€ť Brown whined, â€śThis will go down as one of the dumbest corporate PR stunts of all time. Itâ€™s ludicrous for a big corporation to intentionally inject themselves into a divisive social issue like gay marriage. Itâ€™s particularly dumb for a corporation that makes billions selling cereal to the very people they just opposed.â€ť
Sign the petition at mnunited.org thanking General Mills for supporting all Minnesota families!
Source: Minnesotans United for All Families
Summit City, IN - Indiana Republicans, Democrats Pull Platform Reversal )ver Same-sex Marriage
Indiana Democrats will vote on a platform during their state convention that, for the first time, says the party â€śopposes amending the Indiana Constitution to define marriage.â€ť Last weekend, Republicans approved a platform that has no mention of gay marriage.
The reversal has surprised advocates in the LGBTQ community who see the change as a signal that attitudes are evolving and that same-sex marriage isnâ€™t the wedge issue it had been in past elections. But the move also has disappointed social conservatives who do not want Indiana to sideline this issue. Republicans say their platform is simply a change in focus in an election that is all about jobs. Riiiight! Democrats say their platform reflects both their longstanding commitment to equality and the changing attitudes among voters. A recent Gallup Poll indicated that half of Americans support legalizing same-sex marriage, while 48 percent oppose it. Those in favor included 65% of Democrats, 57% percent of independents and 22 % of Republicans. Still, no stateâ€™s electorate has rejected the ban when given the chance to vote on it. Micah Clark, leader of the American Family Association of Indiana, which wants Indiana to have some type of ban in the constitution, said he was disappointed by the GOP silence this year. Aw gee, thatâ€™s too bad!
Richmond, VA - Thorne-Begland Becomes Virginiaâ€™s First Out Gay Judge
The openly gay prosecutor whose nomination for a judgeship was rejected by the Virginia General Assembly in May was temporarily appointed to Richmond General District Court, making him the first out gay judge in the commonwealth.
Bevill Dean, clerk of the Richmond Circuit Court, said the circuit court had appointed Tracy Thorne-Begland, a former Navy pilot, to the unfilled vacancy on the General District Court. Thorne-Begland last saw his nomination fall 18 votes short of the 51 required to assume the judgeship after 31 members of the Republican-led House of Delegates voted against his nomination, with 10 more delegates abstaining and 26 others not voting. House Republicans scuttled Thorne-Beglandâ€™s nomination after conservative lawmakers and groups, primarily Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William Co.) and The Family Foundation, questioned whether his sexual orientation and marriage would prevent him from upholding current Virginia law, in which same-sex marriage is constitutionally banned. Other lawmakers opposed him because they either questioned his honesty regarding his concealment of his sexual orientation when he first joined the Navy, or thought he may have violated military protocol when, in 1992, he later came out and publicly challenged the militaryâ€™s Donâ€™t Ask, Donâ€™t Tell policy. After coming out as gay, he was honorably discharged. Welcome, Your Honor!
Local News Briefs
Get in the Pink This Pride and Celebrate on Pink Saturday
After more than 20 years, the worldâ€™s biggest Pride Block Party is back better than ever! Pink Saturday, June 23, 5-11pm, provides a safe celebratory space at the heart of the Castro for all members of our community. With the support of neighborhood merchants, City officials, MUNI and the close cooperation of the Mission District Police Station, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Inc. will close the streets in the Castro to celebrate the queer communityâ€™s cultural home, welcome Pride visitors and raise support for grassroots LGBTQ nonprofits.
To ensure everyoneâ€™s safety, visitors and guests will clear a brief bag check at the gates, so no dangerous materials or containers enter the area. Drinking is fine in the bars, but no alcohol is allowed in the streets. After that, attendees will be welcomed to a re-designed event featuring a host of choices in food, music and dance, and more than a few fabulous nuns to provide glittering fun! Pink Saturday Coordinator Sister Selma Soul explains that instead of a large main stage, â€śThe Sisters will spread a mix of DJ and sound stages throughout the footprint, so folks can wander, disco around and enjoy a variety of entertainment.â€ť
Most importantly, Pink Saturday is San Franciscoâ€™s largest outdoor fundraiser for grassroots Bay Area LGBTQ organizations for youth, elders, civil rights, the arts and community health services. Gate donations of $5 or more support many deserving nonprofit organizations.
Source: Interview by Dennis McMillan
San Francisco Safety Coalitionâ€™s â€śB Safe 4 Prideâ€ť Seminar
The San Francisco Safety Coalition invited the public to its â€śB SAFE 4 PRIDEâ€ť pre-Pride Safety Seminar to help better prepare attendees to enjoy safe fun that should occur over SF Pride weekend. The free seminar at Eureka Valley Recreation Center was presented by Chief Ken Craig of Community Patrol USA. He is also a Grand Master level martial artist and vice chair of Castro Community On Patrol. The seminar was a fun, information-packed, low impact format with both lecture and interactive components.
The seminar covered the following: preparations, planning, avoiding trouble and suspicious things, de-escalating situations, assessing threats and escalating oneâ€™s responses accordingly, attracting help and assistance when things go bad, the differences between self-defense and defending yourself (yep, they are different), the legal definition of self-defense and why it is vital to know it. The event included some simple defensive techniques that anyone can do, and that really work, and some strategies to help someone following an incident.
The seminar involved three information-packed hours of safety advice and techniques. Donations assisted the SFSC and The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgenceâ€™s â€śStop the Violenceâ€ť project in continuing its work of violence reduction, improving reporting of all crimes and enhancing safety and security in all communities throughout the city. â€śSelf-defense training is like a fire insurance policy,â€ť said Craig. â€śYou hope youâ€™ll never need it; but if the time ever comes, youâ€™ll be darned glad you have it!â€ť
Source: Interview by Dennis McMillan