Gayborhood News: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

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gayborhood_smBy: Emily Scagel/TRT Assistant Editor–

Boston, MA
AIDS Action Committee disapproves funding cuts
The AIDS Action Committee has released a statement voicing concern of Gov. Deval Patrick’s recommended funding of HIV/AIDS and viral Hepatitis in the budget. AIDS Action president and CEO said that this is a disappointing step backward for the fight against HIV/AIDS. State funding for HIV/AIDS has been cut 38 percent since 2000, and the number of people living with HIV/AIDS in Massachusetts has increased 40 percent.

Brattleboro, VT
New LGBTQ organization formed in New England
A new organization for the LGBTQ has formed in Vermont. Green Mountain Crossroads will support the local rural LGBTQ community in being connected and visible throughout southeastern Vermont, southwestern New Hampshire and northwestern Massachusetts. It aims to keep the community informed of events and activities, as well as maintain information and resources.

Chicago, IL
Mayor supports marriage equality in Illinois
Illinois Mayor Rahm Emanuel has signed the ILove Marriage Petition, supporting marriage for same-sex couples in the state. Lambda Legal released a statement from the regional director for Lambda Legal’s Midwest Regional Office stating that Emanuel has been on the forefront in advocating for marriage equality in Illinois.

New Brunswick, NJ
Study shows African American gay males face unique challenges
Gay black males face a unique set of challenges from themselves, their family and society. The director of the Master of Social Work program at Rutgers University recently completed a study of African American gay youth and their families. The study, “African American Gay Youth and Their Families: Redefining  Masculinity, Coping with Racism and Homophobia,” found that gay black males struggle with intersecting oppressions. The author calls for more research to identify this population’s needs, and states that education is paramount to the resolution of homosexuality and black male gender role expectations.

New York, NY
Cub Scouts pack must decide to keep or remove non-discrimination policy
GLAAD and Scouts for Equality have spoken out against the National Capital Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, who has threatened to take away the charter of a Cub Scouts pack that does not allow discrimination due to sexual orientation. The pack, in Maryland, will have to decide if it will keep their non-discrimination policy, or have their charter revoked. They have posted an online poll asking if they should keep the current policy and continue to operate as an independent scout group that welcomes all families, or to return to a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Boy Scouts of America may remove discriminatory policy
The Boy Scouts of America have announced that it is considering a new policy that would allow gay participants, removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation. NBC News stated that this change may be announced very soon. GLAAD and Scouts for Equality, as well as Change.org petitions endorsed by over 1.2 million people, have been campaigning for an end to the ban on gay Scouts and Scout leaders.

Portland, ME
Maine residents still in support of marriage equality
A survey conducted by Public Policy Polling showed that a majority of voters still remain supportive of the new law allowing same-sex couples to marry, and that the vast majority of Mainers have not felt a negative impact, despite overhyped predictions of marriage equality opponents. Even those who voted against marriage equality now say that it is not having an adverse impact on their lives.

Providence, RI
RI House passes marriage equality bill
For the first time, the Rhode Island House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in support of same-sex marriage legislation. The marriage equality bill has been introduced every session since 1997, and is sponsored by Rep. Art Handy. The bill will now move to the Senate. The campaign director for Rhode Islanders United for Marriage said that there is incredible momentum behind this movement.

Religious coalition forms in support of marriage equality
A Rhode Island coalition that represents over a dozen welcoming and affirming denominations has announced its commitment to continue working toward marriage equality legislation. An ordained minister in the united Church of Christ and chair of the Rhode Island Religious Coalition for Marriage Equality stated that the coalition contains over 100 clergy and will focus on building an active grassroots network, affirming Jesus’ commitment to tolerance and justice.

Coalition launches to give voice statewide to marriage supporters
A broad coalition of local and national organizations has launched a campaign to win full marriage rights in Rhode Island. The non-partisan coalition of organizations, Rhode Islanders United for Marriage, is focused on giving voice to marriage supporters in every corner of the state. The Gov. of Rhode Island has voiced support for the coalition, and stated that he would like to finally sign marriage equality legislation.

San Francisco, CA
Scout not allowed to become Eagle Scout, even after petition
A California Boy Scout Council has approved a gay Scout’s eagle application after his mother created a petition that gained over 460,000 supporters, despite the anti-gay policy of the Boy Scouts of America. The Scout was denied the rank of Eagle Scout after his Scoutmaster refused to sign the application due to his sexual orientation. His mother launched a campaign on Change.org with help from the founder of Scouts for Equality. The national organization has since rejected the application, and will not allow the Scout to become an Eagle Scout.

Tampa, FL
Organization calls for inclusive immigration reform
GetEQUAL has released a statement responding to Senator Marco Rubio’s attempts to offer an immigration framework that ignores a large percentage of immigrants. GetEQUAL’s national field director stated that they know firsthand how detrimental this plan would be, being, themselves, a gay undocumented Floridian. GetEQUAL is calling on Congress to pass an inclusive and comprehensive immigration reform bill, as well as calling on Obama to use his executive power to stop mass deportations.

Washington, D.C.
Service members discharged under DADT will receive full pay
Former service members honorably discharged for “homosexuality” will receive their full pay after a settlement of a class action lawsuit challenging a policy that cuts half of their separation pay. This policy was not changed when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed, and the ACLU and the ACLU of New Mexico filed a class action lawsuit against the policy, representing approximately 181 honorably discharged veterans who had their pay withheld due to the discriminatory policy.

Church supports marriage equality
The Washington National Cathedral has announced that it will embrace marriage equality and begin celebrating weddings of gay and lesbian couples. Deputy Director of HRC’s Religion and Faith Program stated that this is a milestone in the Episcopal Church. The Cathedral is the most visible community of faith in Episcopalianism.

Chuck Hagel voices support for LGBT military families
Former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, who is currently in nomination to become Secretary of Defense, has voiced support for gay and lesbian military families, promising to provide equal benefits to the families of services members. Army Veteran and executive director of OutServe-SLDN responded to this commitment by saying that this is a turning point for gay and lesbian military families.

Inaugural prayer service includes lesbian Reverend
President Obama’s inaugural prayer service included the Reverend of the Metropolitan Community Churches, a denomination founded as a church open to LGBT people. Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, who recently celebrated her 35th anniversary with her wife, stated that it was profoundly meaningful to read the Bible during Obama’s second inaugural interfaith service.

Defense Secretary called upon to extend benefits to LGBT military spouses
The HRC is calling upon Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to ensure same-sex military spouses receive the same benefits that all other service members currently do, by issuing military IDs to same-sex spouses. These changes can be made independently of DOMA, though some, like access to health care benefits, still cannot be extended because of the discriminatory law. Panetta has taken steps toward equality, such as lifting the ban on women in combat, and recording a Pride message for gay service members.

Obama mentions marriage equality and Stonewall during inauguration
President Obama became the first president to voice support for marriage equality in the Inaugural address. The president of HRC released a statement saying that this sends a clear message to LGBT young people from the Gulf Coast to the Rocky Mountains that the leaders of the U.S. will fight for equality to be federal law. HRC president also stated that the inclusion of Stonewall as a historic event that made our union strong is a testament to the contribution of LGBT Americans who want to be treated equally by their country.

Business coalition launches in support of DOMA repeal
A business coalition of Fortune 500 and other brand name companies that support ending discriminatory federal laws has been launched. Because of DOMA, legally married gay and lesbian couples are denied over 1,100 federal rights and benefits. The new Businesses Coalition for DOMA Repeal will support the repeal of DOMA and recognize all legal marriages for federal purposes through the Respect for Marriage Act. There is bipartisan support for this act. Members of the Business Coalition for DOMA Repeal include Marriott, Aetna, eBay and MassMutual.

HIV prevention programs receive funding in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rican community-based organizations will now have expanded capacity for important HIV prevention services, due to $155,000 in grants from AIDS United. In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranked Puerto Rico in the top 10 AIDS case rates in the U.S. states and territories. The rate of HIV infection in Puerto Rico is 33.8 compared to 19.7 in the United States.

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