News from Your Gayborhood: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

By: Emily Scagel/TRT Assistant Editor–

Boston, MA
MassEquality urges team to make pro-LGBT video
Following a homophobic tweet from New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes, MassEquality has called upon the Patriots to make an “It Gets Better” video. Spikes, when confronted about the remark, tried to claim it as a joke. In response, MassEquality stated in response that if Spikes was serious about the fact that he was joking, he should prove it in the video, showing that there is no place for bullying on the sports field or off.

Massachusetts opens LGBT-specific sexual assault program
The first LGBTQ-specific sexual assault program has opened in Massachusetts. Evidence indicates that sexual assault prevalence rates for LGBTQ individuals are much higher than that of heterosexuals, but there also is a lack of LGBTQ-specific services. In response, the Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project has begun the sexual assault program in conjunction with the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center. Before this program, there was no LGBTQ sexual assault case manager in the state, which added increased barriers for the LGBTQ population to receive necessary services.

Los Angeles, CA
Report shows high number of LGBT characters on television
The annual TV report, “Where We Are On TV,” that reviews scripted LGBT primetime characters for the 2012-2013 season has been released. The report, issued by GLAAD, indicates that the number of LGBT characters on broadcast networks has risen to the highest ever recorded, as well as an overall LGBT character count increase on cable television. According to GLAAD President, this increase reflects a culture change in the acceptance of LGBT people in society.

New York, NY
Federal appeals court rules DOMA unconstitutional
The “Defense of Marriage Act” has been declared unconstitutional by a federal appeals court, ruling that it discriminates against married same-sex couples. The court holds that government discrimination against lesbians and gay men is now assumed to be unconstitutional. This is the first time that a federal appeals court has ruled that “heightened scrutiny,” a higher level of judicial review, applies when the government discriminates against gay people. The law was challenged by Edith Windsor, who has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear her case.

Gay men singled out by police, lawsuit filed
A federal lawsuit was filed by Lambda Legal against Westchester County police for targeting LGBT people for humiliation and harassment. Against court orders, the Department of Public Safety released sealed information of men arrested in a sex sting operation, without mentioning that criminal charges had been dropped. This unlawful release harmed reputations, caused adverse employment consequences and mental anguish. The lawsuit asserts that the department violated equal protection by singling out gay men for harsher treatment and illegally identifying them to the media.

Pledge asks teachers to make classrooms safe for everyone
Three national education non-profits have launched an initiative asking teachers to make their classrooms Safe and Affirming for Everyone (S.A.F.E.). Teach for America, the Trevor Project and GLSEN seek to enlist educators as allies to prevent bullying and reduce risk, and create safe and affirming classrooms for students, especially those who are LGBT. Teachers can gain access to a resource library that will help create this welcoming environment by signing the pledge at www.safeclassrooms.org.

TLDEF helps trans woman win coverage for surgery
A claim has been resolved by the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund on behalf of a transgender woman who was denied coverage for sex reassignment surgery by her healthcare provider. The provider denied her claim stating that the surgery was “cosmetic,” and only reversed their position after TLDEF threatened to file a lawsuit.

Campaign works to allow access to non-explicit LGBT websites in schools
Schools across the nation are responding positively to a campaign addressing the discriminatory censorship of web content in public schools. ACLU’s campaign, “Don’t Filter Me,” found that most schools did not realize that their filtering software blocked LGBT-related websites that are not sexually explicit. Anti-bullying resources and civil rights websites could not be accessed, yet anti-gay websites condemning homosexuality and opposing legal protections were not blocked. After the ACLU contacted the districts, most schools reconfigured the software so LGBT-related sites could be accessed on a viewpoint-neutral basis.

Online hub provides legal information for LGBTQ youth
A new online and mobile resource for LGBTQ youth has been launched by Lambda Legal. The “Know Your Rights” hub will provide information about laws and policies that serve to protect young people, at both the state and federal level. It includes legal and advocacy guidance on issues such as bullying, gay-straight alliances, transgender youth and out-of-home care settings. Expansion is planned for 2013 to include other resources for those facing discrimination.

Portland, ME
NOM continues to refuse to identify donors
The National Organization for Marriage reported raising over $250,000 to influence Question 1 on the fall ballot that would allow marriage equality. The anti-marriage organization disregarded Maine ethics laws by refusing to disclose donors and identify the source of its contributions. The campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage said that voters deserve to know who is contributing and trying to influence the ballot vote.

Providence, RI
RI poll shows wide support of marriage equality
A new WPRI poll showed that an overwhelming majority of Rhode Island residents support marriage equality and equal rights for same-sex couples. The poll surveyed 501 likely voters and found that 56 percent support marriage equality, with only 36 percent in opposition. The campaign director for MERI stated that this affirms the growing momentum for marriage equality in Rhode Island, and that the poll should serve as a wakeup call to politicians that continue to be against equal rights.

San Francisco, CA
Scouts pledge pins to boy who came out as gay
A nationwide movement of Boy Scouts giving up their Eagle Scout pins to support a Boy Scout denied his Eagle Scout status when he openly came out as gay during efforts to fight bullying has begun. The movement has rallied dozens of Scouts who have pledged their pins to the Boy Scout if the troop refuses.

Washington, D.C.
Legislative victory for LGBT business owners in California
A bill has been signed into law in California which enables the Department of General Services to collect information on gay-owned businesses. The inclusion of this voluntary information will help to break down discriminatory barriers to LGBT business owners and will recognize their economic contributions. California is the first state to have a law dedicated to advancement of businesses owned by LGBT people.

Church funds anti-equality measures, parishioners unaware
The Catholic Church is funding discriminatory political campaigns in Minnesota, Maine, Washington and Maryland, where marriage equality is on the ballot this fall. In some cases, a report by the HRC found, parishioners may not even be aware that their dollars are being used for this purpose. The report found that the Church, along with the National Organization for Marriage, has spent around $1.4 million on the four ballot measures, a total that makes them responsible for funding 60 percent of all anti-equality efforts. It was found that this directly opposes the values of the majority of Catholics, as according to a recent poll, nearly 60 percent support marriage equality and the poll also indicated that marriage equality is currently one of the issues of least concern.

Youth who are out at school or to family are happier, says report
A new report on LGBT youth indicates that young people who are out at school or to their immediate family report higher levels of happiness, optimism, acceptance and support. The report, called the “National Coming Out Day” report, is issued by the HRC and analyzes further the results of a survey of over 10,000 LGBT-identified youth that was first released in the “Growing Up LGBT in America” report. This new report also includes a call to action for LGBT youth, as well as their peers, parents, teachers and religious leaders.

PSAs urge trans people to not give up their vote
Public service announcements outlining how transgender Americans can keep their right to vote have been released by the National Center for Transgender Equality. The series, “Voting While Trans,” aims to educate and prepare transgender people to vote in their state. Revised photo ID laws create barriers to voting for trans people, and more than 25,000 could lose their right to vote because of this. The message of the PSAs is to not feel discouraged and to not give up the vote.

Log Cabin Republicans announce endorsement of Mitt Romney
After what was described as “careful consideration and consultation,” the Log Cabin Republicans have elected to endorse Mitt Romney for president. The executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans said that despite their disagreement with Romney on the issue of marriage, they agree with his vision for America.

Scorecard shows legislators continue to hinder LGBT equality
Legislators are out of touch on LGBT equality, according to an analysis of the Congressional Scorecard released by the HRC. The scorecard rates members of the 112th Congress on their support of LGBT issues. The average scores for both House and Senate members was down significantly from the 111th Congress. The HRC Legislative Director said that while American people move forward on issues of equality, the majority of Congress is behind.

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